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Effects of Anonymity, Gender, and Erotophilia on the Quality of Data Obtained from Self-Reports of Socially Sensitive Behaviors


L E Durant, M P carey, K E E Schroder

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Journal of Behavioural Medicine

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PubMed Search


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This study examined the effects of anonymity, gender, and erotophilia on the quality of self-reports
of socially sensitive health-related behaviors. A sample of 155 male and 203 female undergraduate
students was randomly assigned to an anonymous and a confidential (i.e., non-anonymous)
assessment condition. Gender, erotophilia, self-reports (on substance use, sexual behaviors, illegal
activity), and perceived item threat were assessed by questionnaire. Data quality was strongly
affected by experimental condition and gender. Thus, terminations were more frequent in the
confidential condition and among women. In the confidential condition, women were significantly
more likely to “prefer not to respond” to sensitive item compared to men. Both female gender and
confidential condition were associated with lower frequency reports of sensitive health behaviors,
and greater perceived threat of the assessment questions. Self-reported engagement in sensitive
behaviors was positively related to both perceived question threat and erotophilia. Path analyses
suggest that question threat mediates the effects of anonymity manipulations and gender on data
quality (item refusal, termination), and that erotophilia mediates the effects of gender on incidence
and frequency self-reports. The results indicate that anonymous assessments as well as male gender
are associated with better data quality.




Behavior; Women


Created at 9/13/2011 10:35 AM by Davis, Gregory P
Last modified at 9/13/2011 10:35 AM by Davis, Gregory P