Motivated Response Styles: The Role of Cultural Values, Regulatory Focus, and Self-Consciousness in Socially Desirable Responding

Three studies investigated the relations between cultural values and socially desirable responding, the processes that underlie them, and factors that influence the strength of the relations. Results indicated that individualism was associated with self-deceptive enhancement but not impression management, whereas collectivism was associated with impression management but not self-deceptive enhancement.  Regulatory focus was found to mediate these relations. A promotion focus mediated the relation between individualism and self-deceptive enhancement, whereas a prevention focus mediated the relation between collectivism and impression management. This mediation pattern held regardless of whether individualism and collectivism were determined at the group level (Study 1) or measured at the individual level (Studies 2–3), whether socially desirable responding was operationalized as a scale measure (Studies 1–3) or as reactions to behavioral scenarios (Study 2), and across different measures of regulatory focus. This general mediation pattern was found to be moderated by type of self-consciousness (Study 3): The promotion focus mediation was stronger for participants low (vs. high) in private self-consciousness, and the prevention focus mediation was stronger for participants high (vs. low) in public self-consciousness.