Does Conjoint Analysis Mitigate Social Desirability Bias?

21 Pages Posted: 25 Jul 2018 Last revised: 25 Sep 2019

See all articles by Yusaku Horiuchi

Yusaku Horiuchi

Dartmouth College - Department of Government

Zachary D. Markovich

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) - Department of Political Science

Teppei Yamamoto

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) - Department of Political Science

Date Written: September 16, 2019

Abstract

How can we elicit truthful responses in survey research? Political scientists are often concerned about systematic measurement errors in survey questions on sensitive topics, such as gender and racial attitudes, due to social desirability bias (SDB). Conjoint analysis has become a popular tool to address this concern, despite the lack of systematic evidence that it is suitable for this purpose. In this paper, we employ a novel experimental design to investigate whether a standard fully randomized conjoint design mitigates SDB. Our experiment isolates the SDB reduction by comparing a standard conjoint design against a partially randomized design where only the socially sensitive attribute is randomly varied between the two profiles in each paired evaluation task. Our design also includes placebo conditions that are designed to remove confounding effects due to the increased attention to the varying attribute under the partial design. We implemented the proposed experiment in a survey designed to uncover respondents' attitudes toward environmental protection. We find suggestive evidence that conjoint analysis does mitigate SDB.

Keywords: response bias, survey experiment, survey methodology, conjoint analysis

Suggested Citation

Horiuchi, Yusaku and Markovich, Zachary D. and Yamamoto, Teppei, Does Conjoint Analysis Mitigate Social Desirability Bias? (September 16, 2019). MIT Political Science Department Research Paper No. 2018-15. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3219323 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3219323

Yusaku Horiuchi

Dartmouth College - Department of Government ( email )

204 Silsby Hall
HB 6108
Hanover, NH 03755
United States

HOME PAGE: http://sites.dartmouth.edu/horiuchi/

Zachary D. Markovich (Contact Author)

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) - Department of Political Science ( email )

77 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02139
United States

Teppei Yamamoto

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) - Department of Political Science ( email )

77 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02139
United States

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