Social Desirability and Parental Reporting of Children's Health-Related Behaviours
Extensive literature has documented the negative impacts of being overweight in childhood, and the difficulty in getting parents to acknowledge and act on their children’s overweight status. This study aims to investigate whether social desirability could be one contributing factor to this struggle. Social desirability is a phenomenon in which individuals present themselves in the most culturally celebrated way possible, regardless of whether that is an accurate reflection of their actual self. It is argued that individuals high in social desirability may deny their children’s overweight status and unhealthy behaviours due to the high social pressure for their child to be of a healthy weight. It was found that low levels of social desirability lead to reporting more congruous with the child’s weight status for some health behaviours, but that it did not impact reporting of the child’s weight status itself. Implications for practice are discussed.