Spit & lies: Does social desirability predict smoking cessation success?

Evan Odensky, The University of Texas School of Public Health


This study examines the role of socially desirable responding (SDR) on smoking cessation program success. SDR is the tendency for individuals to give responses that put themselves in what they perceive to be a socially desirable light. ^ This research is a secondary analysis of data from Project Cognition, a study designed to examine the associations between performance on cognitive assessments and subsequent relapse to smoking. Adult smokers (N=183) were recruited from the greater Houston area to participate in the smoking cessation study. In this portion of the research, participants' smoking status was assessed on their quit day (QD), one week after QD, and four weeks after QD. Primary outcome measures were self-reported relapse, true cessation determined by biological measure, discrepancies between self-reported smoking status and biological assessments of smoking, and dropping out. ^ Primary predictor measures were the Balanced Inventory of Desirable Responding (BIDR) and self-reported motivation to quit smoking. The BIDR is a 40-item questionnaire that assesses Self-deceptive Enhancement (SDE; the tendency to give self-reports that are honest but positively biased) and Impression Management (IM; deliberate self-presentation to an audience). Scores were used to create a dichotomous BIDR total score group variable, a dichotomous SDE group variable, and a dichotomous IM group variable. Participants at one standard deviation above the mean were in the "high" group, and scores below one standard deviation were in the "normal" group. In addition, age, race, and gender were analyzed as covariates. ^ The overall findings of this study suggest that in the general population BIDR informs participants' self-reports and the IM and SDR subscales inform participants' behavior. BIDR predicted self-reported relapse in the general population and trended toward indicating that a participant will claim smoking cessation success when biological measures indicate otherwise. SDE interacted with motivation to predict biologically verified cessation success. There was no main effect for BIDR, IM, or SDE predicting drop out; however, IM interacted with age to predict participants' likelihood of drop out. Used in conjunction, the BIDR, IM subscale, and SDR subscale can be used to more accurately tailor smoking cessation programs to the needs of individual participants.^

Subject Area

Psychology, Behavioral|Psychology, Social

Recommended Citation

Odensky, Evan, "Spit & lies: Does social desirability predict smoking cessation success?" (2011). Texas Medical Center Dissertations (via ProQuest). AAI1507188.