Date of Award
Master of Science (MS)
Department of Family and Consumer Sciences
Tammy S. Harpel
Surveys that investigate the financial lives of consumers consist of direct questions about financial behavior, with college students being a heavily surveyed and convenient sample (Gutter 2013). However, the subjective nature of survey data is not bias-free, indicated by the presence of disparities between the respondents' reported and actual behavior. Due to the fact that many students begin to acquire loans, establish credit, and initiate saving behaviors in college, it is important that we have a complete understanding the financial behavior of college students.
The goal of this study was to investigate the role of socially desirable responding (SDR) in responses to survey questions to better understand students' financial behavior. Using survey data collected from students at a Mid-western university, this study employed an indirect questioning method using scenarios. The study compared direct and indirect reporting of financial behaviors and attitudes in the following three areas: saving, credit cards, and loans, to determine the relationship between the direct and indirect responses with a measure of socially desirable responding. Findings showed that students with more disagreement between direct and indirect reports of credit card behavior scored higher on the social desirability measure. Furthermore, the study showed that greater differences between direct and indirect reports of saving and spending behaviors were significantly related to higher scores on the measure of socially desirable responding. This demonstrates that the use of indirect questioning can highlight and may reduce biased responses in future measures of financial behavior.
Kelly, Nicole L., "Examining Social Desirability Bias in Measures of Financial Behavior" (2015). Theses and Dissertations. 464.