Balanced Inventory of Desirable Responding (BIDR)


The Balanced Inventory of Desirable Responding (BIDR) measures two constructs: self-deceptive positivity (the tendency to give self­ reports that are honest but positively biased) and impression management (deliberate self­ presentation to an audience).


The BIDR is a descendant of the Self- and Other-Deception Questionnaires developed by Sackeim and Gur (1978). The original self-deception items were rationally developed on the assumption that individuals with a propensity for self-deception tend to deny having psychologically threatening thoughts or feelings. The threats were based on psycho­ analytic theory (e.g., hating one’s parents, enjoying one’s bowel  movements,  having sexual fantasies). In contrast, the more recent version of the scale (Paulhus, 1988) empha­ sizes exaggerated claims of positive cognitive attributes (overconfidence in one’s judg­ ments and rationality). Thus the focus has shifted from ego defense to ego enhancement. Given that the newer measure of self-deception is presented here, the psychometric information reported below applies only to that version.

The impression management items were rationally developed on the assumption that some respondents systematically overreport their performance of a wide variety of desir­ able behaviors and underreport undesirable behaviors. Because the claims involve overt behaviors (e.g., I always pick up my litter), any distortion is presumably a conscious lie. The 40 BIDR items are stated as propositions. Respondents  rate their agreement  with each statement on a seven-point scale. The scoring key is balanced. After reversing the negatively keyed items, one point is added for each extreme response (6 or 7). Hence, total scores on SDE and IM can range from Oto 20. This scoring ensures that high scores are attained only by subjects who give exaggeratedly desirable responses. All 40  items may be summed to yield an overall measure of SDR that correlates highly with the MCSD. (An extended version including 20 denial items is also available.)



In a large sample of 884 religious adults, Quinn (1989) found means of 7.6 (s.d.  = 3.1) and 7.3 (s.d. = 3.1) for males and females, respectively. In a sample of 433 college students, Paulhus (1988) reported corresponding means of 7.5 (s.d. = 3.2) and 6.8 (s.d. = 3.1).

Impression Management

Quinn (1989) reported male and female means of7.3 (s.d. =  3.1) and 8.9 (s.d. =  3.2) in a sample of 884 religious adults. In a sample of 433 college students, Paulhus (1988) reported means of 4.3 (s.d. =  3.1) and 4.9 (s.d. =  3.2) for males and females, respec­ tively. In a sample of 100 college students, Paulhus (1984) reported an overall mean of 11.9 (s.d. = 4.5) in a public disclosure condition. In a sample of 48  members  of alcoholics anonymous,  Mellor, Conroy, and Masteller (1986) reported a mean of 11.2 (s.d. = 4.9).


Internal Consistency

In the studies reported above, values of coefficient alpha range from .68 to .80 for the SDE and from .75 to .86 for the IM scale. When all 40 items are summed as a measure of SDR, the alpha is .83 (Paulhus, 1988).


Paulhus (1988) reported test-retest correlations over a 5-week period of .69  and  .65 for the SDE and IM scale, respectively.


The sum of all 40 BIDR items shows concurrent validity as a measure of SDR in correlating .71 with the Marlowe-Crowne scale (Paulhus, 1988) and .80 with the Multidi­ mensional Social Desirability Inventory of Jacobson, Kellogg, Cauce, and Slavin (1977).

Convergent: Self-Deception

In general, measures of self-deception show concurrent validity in correlating strongly with other first factor SDR measures (see introduction). Paulhus (1988) found that the SDE measure provided here correlates positively with the following traditional measures of defense and coping: (1) repressive style as measured by Byrne’s R-S scale (r = .51), (2) reversal, as measured by Ihilevich and Gleser’s (1986) Defense Mechanisms Inventory (r = .34), and (3) positive re-appraisal (r = .44), distancing (r = .33), and self-controlling (r = .39) as measured with the Ways of Coping scale (Folkman, Lazarus, Dunkel-Schetter, DeLongis, & Gruen, 1986).

Several experimental studies have supported the construct validity of the SDE. After a failure experience, high self-deception subjects were more likely than lows to show a self­ serving bias (Paulhus, 1988). High self-deception subjects also showed more illusion of control, belief that they are safe drivers, and proneness to love (Paulhus & Reid, in press) and to intrinsic religiosity (Leak & Fish, 1989). High scorers also show excessive confi­ dence in memory judgments and more hindsight bias; they also claim familiarity with non­ existent products (Paulhus, 1988).

All these mechanisms may contribute to the positive adjustment reported by high SDE subjects including high self-esteem as well as low neuroticism, depression, empathic distress, and social anxiety (Paulhus & Reid, in press). Note that all these measures of adjustment have been validated in the past by clinical judgment, behavioral measures, and/or peer-ratings.

Convergent: IM Scale

As noted in the introduction, the IM scale correlates highly with a cluster of measures traditionally known as lie scales (e.g., Eysenck’s Lie scale, MMPI Lie scale) and role­ playing measures (e.g., Wiggins’ Sd, Gough’s Gi). Correlations with the MCSD and agreeableness and conscientiousness ratings (Paulhus, 1988) suggest that a social ap­proval motive underlies anonymous responses.

The IM scale is particularly responsive to demands for impression management. For example, in a comparison of six SDR measures, the IM scale showed the largest increase from private to public conditions (Paulhus, I 984). Lautenschlager and Flaherty (in press) showed that IM, but not SDE, was sensitive to test administration conditions (paper and pencil vs. computer; public vs. private).


Measures of self-deception and impression management show discriminant validity in forming separate factors in factor analyses (Paulhus, I 984, I 988). Earlier versions of the self-deception measure showed positive correlations with impression management rang­ ing from .35 to .65, depending on the situational  demand  for self-presentation. The version presented here, however, exhibits much lower correlations, ranging from .05 to .40. Note that males score higher than females on self-deception, but lower on impression management.


Paulhus, D. L. (I 988). Assessing self deception and impression management in self­ reports: the Balanced Inventory of Desirable Responding. (Manual available from the author at the Department of Psychology, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, B.C., Canada V6T IY7.)


The predecessors of these measures, the Self-Deception and Other-Deception Question­ naires, were first described in Sackeim and Our ( I 978), although the items have never been published. Subsequently, Paulhus ( I 984) refined the measures and integrated them into one inventory. The two major refinements were (a) writing reversals to balance the keys, and (b) replacing the psychopathology items. The latter refinement eliminated any spurious correlation with psychopathology measures. Five preliminary versions of the BIDR preceded the version presented here (Paulhus, I 988). A French language version is also available (Sabourin, Bourgeois, Gendreau, & Morva!, I 989).

A major feature of the BIDR is the provision for separate measures of the two major SDR factors, self-deceptive enhancement and impression management. It is often critical to know which component is responsible for a correlation observed between SDR and some other variable. In addition, the dichotomous scoring procedure (assigning  points only for extremely desirable responses) provides some assurance that style rather than content is being tapped. IM is more likely to tap style as anonymity decreases.

Note that substantial correlations are observed between SDE and measures of adjust­ ment even though the content of the SDE measure is free of psychopathology. These findings suggest that self-deceptive positivity is intrinsically linked to the adjusted person­ ality, consistent with current views of adjustment (Alloy & Abramson, I 979; Taylor & Brown, I 988). Research is required on the personality of extreme scorers: Peer-raters may not see them as well-adjusted as they see themselves. They may also snap under stress. Validation of a measure of self-deception is constrained by the uncertain status of the construct (see Lockard & Paulhus, I 988). Conceptually similar labels for the construct are available, for example lack of insight, overconfidence, or dogmatism. Whatever the label,

it is clear that the SDE scale is tapping a specific form of SDR, one that is less subject to purposeful manipulation than measures in the impression management category.

BIDR Version 6—Form 40

Using the scale below as a guide, write a number beside each statement to indicate how much you agree with it.
1 2 3 4 5 6 7

  • 1. My first impressions of people usually turn out to be right.
  • *2. It would be hard for me to break any of my bad habits.
  • 3. I don’t care to know what other people really think of me.
  • * 4. I have not always been honest with myself.
  • 5. I always know why I like things.
  • *6. When my emotions are aroused, it biases my thinking.
  • 7. Once I’ve made up my mind, other people can seldom change my opinion.
  • *8. I am not a safe driver when I exceed the speed limit.
  • 9. I am fully in control of my own fate.
  • * 10. It’s hard for me to shut off a disturbing thought.
  • 11. I never regret my decisions.
  • *12. I sometimes lose out on things because I can’t make up my mind soon enough.
  • 13. The reason I vote is because my vote can make a difference.
  • * 14. My parents were not always fair when they punished me.
  • 15. I am a completely rational person.
  • *16. I rarely appreciate criticism.
  • 17. I am very confident of my judgments.
  • * 18. I have sometimes doubted my ability as a lover.
  • 19. It’s all right with me if some people happen to dislike me.
  • *20. I don’t always know the reasons why I do the things I do.
  • * 2 1 . I sometimes tell lies if I have to.
  • 22. I never cover up my mistakes.
  • *23. There have been occasions when I have taken advantage of someone.
  • 24. I never swear.
  • *25. I sometimes try to get even rather than forgive and forget.
  • 26. I always obey laws, even if I’m unlikely to get caught.
  • *27. I have said something bad about a friend behind his or her back.
  • 28. When I hear people talking privately, I avoid listening.
  • * 29. I have received too much change from a salesperson without telling him or her.
  • 30. I always declare everything at customs.
  • * 3 1 . When I was young I sometimes stole things.
  • 32. I have never dropped litter on the street.
  • *33. I sometimes drive faster than the speed limit.
  • 34. I never read sexy books or magazines.
  • *35. I have done things that I don’t tell other people about.
  • 36. I never take things that don’t belong to me.
  • *37. I have taken sick-leave from work or school even though I wasn’t really sick.
  • 38. I have never damaged a library book or store merchandise without reporting it.
  • *39. I have some pretty awful habits.
  • 40. I don’t gossip about other people’s business.

Items 1-20 assess SDE; items 2 1 – 4 0 assess IM. Add one point for every “6” or “7” (minimum – 0; maximum = 20).
*, Items keyed in the ”False” (negative) direction.