The Influence of Social Desirability on Self-Reported Sexual Behavior in HIV Survey in Rural Ethiopia


Objective: It is in order to examine associations between social desirability (SD) and self-reports of abstinence among youths in rural Ethiopia. Methods: Youths of ages 15-24 (114 participants) were administered questionnaire to assess HIV knowledge and primary abstinence and a modified Marlowe-Crowne Social Desirability Scale to assess SD bias. The relationships between SD groups (dichotomized into high and low) and abstinence by various characteristics were assessed by using Fisher’s exact p-values. Results: The odds of individuals reporting abstinence were 13.2 times greater in the high SD group compared to the low SD group (p-value 0.002) when adjusted for education, gender, age group, and HIV knowledge. The differences in abstinence between the high and low SD score groups were also examined for selected variables. Conclusions: Individuals who exhibited more SD bias were more likely to report primary abstinence. SD bias should be considered when conducting self-reported surveys to measure the effectiveness of HIV prevention programs.

Share and Cite:

A. Vu, K. Pham, N. Tran and S. Ahmed, "The Influence of Social Desirability on Self-Reported Sexual Behavior in HIV Survey in Rural Ethiopia," World Journal of AIDS, Vol. 3 No. 4, 2013, pp. 345-349. doi: 10.4236/wja.2013.34044.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.


[1] “2011 UNAIDS World AIDS Day Report,” UNAIDS, Geneva, 2011.
[2] W. L. Kirungi, J. Musinguzi, E. Madraa, N. Mulumba, T. Callejja, P. Ghys and R. Bessinger, “Trends in Antenatal HIV Prevalence in Urban Uganda Associated with Uptake of Preventive Sexual Behaviour,” Sexually Transmitted Infections, Vol. 82, Suppl. 1, 2006, pp. i36-i41.
[3] A. Mahomva, S. Greby, S. Dube, O. Mugurungi, J. Hargrove, D. Rosen, K. L. Dehne, S. Gregson, M. St Louis and S. Hader, “HIV Prevalence and Trends from Data in Zimbabwe, 1997-2004,” Sexually Transmitted Infections, Vol. 82, Suppl. 1, 2006, pp. i42-i47.
[4] J. A. Catania, D. R. Gibson, D. D. Chitwood and T. J. Coates, “Methodological Problems in AIDS Behavioral Research: Influences on Measurement Error and Participation Bias in Studies of Sexual Behavior,” Psychological Bulletin, Vol. 108, No. 3, 1990, pp. 339-362.
[5] R. Tourangeau and T. Yan, “Sensitive Questions in Surveys,” Psychological Bulletin, Vol. 133, No. 5, 2007, pp. 859-883.
[6] M. L. Plummer, D. A. Ross, D. Wight, J. Changalucha, G. Mshana, J. Wamoyi, J. Todd, A. Anemona, F. F. Mosha, A. I. Obasi and R. J. Hayes, “A Bit More Truthful: The Validity of Adolescent Sexual BehaviourData Collected in Rural Northern Tanzania Using Five Methods,” Sexually Transmitted Infections, Vol. 80, Suppl. 2, 2004, pp. ii49-ii56.
[7] D. Schopper, S. Doussantousse and J. Orav, “Sexual Behaviors Relevant to HIV Transmission in a Rural African Population. How Much Can a KAP Survey Tell Us?” Social Science & Medicine, Vol. 37, No. 3, 1993, pp. 401-412.
[8] C. A. Kelly, E. Soler-Hampejsek, B. S. Mensch and P. C. Hewett, “Social Desirability Bias in Sexual Behavior Reporting: Evidence from an Interview Mode Experiment in Rural Malawi,” International Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health, Vol. 39, No. 1, 2013, pp. 14-21.
[9] J. R. Glynn, N. Kayuni, E. Banda, F. Parrott, S. Floyd, M. Francis-Chizororo, M. Nkhata, C. Tanton, J. Hemmings, A. Molesworth, A. C. Crampin and N. French, “Assessing the Validity of Sexual Behaviour Reports in a Whole Population Survey in Rural Malawi,” PLoS One, Vol. 6, No. 7, 2011, p. e22840.
[10] C. J. Hopwood, C. G. Flato, S. Ambwani, B. H. Garland and L. C. Morey, “A Comparison of Latino and Anglo Socially Desirable Responding,” Journal of Clinical Psychology, Vol. 65, No. 7, 2009, pp. 769-780.
[11] D. P. Crowne and D. Marlowe. “A New Scale of Social Desirability Independent of Psychopathology,” Journal of Clinical Psychology, Vol. 24, No. 4, 1960, pp. 349-354.
[12] T. P. Johnson and M. Fendrich, “A Validation of the Crowne-Marlowe Social Desirability Scale,” 57th Annual Meeting of the American Association for Public Opinion Research, St. Pete Beach, 2002.
[13] C. A. Latkin and D. Vlahov, “Socially Desirable Response Tendency as a Correlate of Accuracy of Self-Reported HIV Serostatus for HIV Seropositive Injection Drug Users,” Addiction, Vol. 93, No. 8, 1998, pp. 1191-1197.
[14] A. W. Tatman, M. T. Swogger, K. Love and M. D. Cook, “Psychometric Properties of the Marlowe-Crowne Social Desirability Scale with Adult Male Sexual Offenders,” Sexual Abuse, Vol. 21, No. 1, 2009, pp. 21-34.
[15] A. Lange, B. Dehghani and E. de Beurs, “Validation of the Dutch Adaptation of the Buss-Durkee Hostility Inventory,” Behaviour Research and Therapy, Vol. 33, No. 2, 1995, pp. 229-233.
[16] D. E. Morisky, A. Angand and C. D. Sneed, “Validating the Effects of Social Desirability on Self-Reported Condom Use Behavior among Commercial Sex Workers,” AIDS Education and Prevention, Vol. 14, No. 5, 2002, pp. 351-360.
[17] A. Vu, N. Tran, K. Pham and S. Ahmed, “Reliability of the Marlowe-Crowne Social Desirability Scale in Ethiopia, Kenya, Mozambique, and Uganda,” BMC Medical Research Methodology, Vol. 11, No. 1, 2011, p. 162.
[18] A. Edwards, “The Measurement of Personality Traits by Scales and Inventories,” Holt, Rinehart & Winston, New York, 1970.
[19] H. Eysenck and S. Eysenck, “Manual of Eysenck Personality Inventory,” University Press, London, 1964.
[20] L. J. Cronbach, “Coefficient Alpha and the Internal Structure of Tests,” Psychometrika, Vol. 16, No. 3, 1951, pp. 297-333.
[21] Centers for Disease Control, EpiInfo, Version 3.5.4, 2012.
[22] StataCorp, Stata/IC, Version 11.2, 2009.

Copyright © 2023 by authors and Scientific Research Publishing Inc.

Creative Commons License

This work and the related PDF file are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.