Reliability of the Marlowe-Crowne social desirability scale in Ethiopia, Kenya, Mozambique, and Uganda

Alexander Vu, Nhan Tran, Kiemanh Pham, Saifuddin Ahmed

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


Background: Studies of HIV often use self-reported surveys to measure sexual knowledge, attitudes, and practices. However, the self-reported data are vulnerable to social desirability (SD), a propensity of individuals to report favorable responses. The Marlowe-Crowne Social Desirability Scale (MC-SDS) was developed as a measure of the effect of social desirability, but it has not been adapted for or used in Africa. This study aimed to apply the MC-SDS nested in an HIV behavioral intervention program and to measure its reliability in four African countries. Methods. The MC-SDS was adapted based on consultations with local stakeholders and pilot tested in Ethiopia, Kenya, Mozambique, and Uganda. Trained interviewers administered the modified 28-item MC-SDS survey to 455 men and women (ages 15-24 years). The scores for the social desirability scales were calculated for all participants. An analysis of the internal consistency of responses was conducted using the Cronbach's coefficient. Acceptable internal consistency was defined as an coefficient of 0.70. Results: Mean social desirability scores ranged from a low of 15.7 in Kenya to a high of 20.6 in Mozambique. The mean score was 17.5 for Uganda and 20.6 for Mozambique. The Cronbach's coefficients were 0.63 in Kenya, 0.66 in Mozambique, 0.70 in Uganda, and 0.80 in Ethiopia. Conclusions: The MC-SDS can be effectively adapted and implemented in sub-Saharan Africa. The reliability of responses in these settings suggest that the MC-SDS could be a useful tool for capturing potential SD in surveys of HIV related risk behaviors.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number162
JournalBMC medical research methodology
StatePublished - 2011

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Epidemiology
  • Health Informatics


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