Social desirability and change following substance abuse treatment in male offenders




Davis, Christopher G.; Doherty, Sherri; Moser, Andrea E.

Psychology of Addictive Behaviors

September 2014



The efficacy of cognitive–behavioral treatment for substance abuse is contingent on changing clients’ attitudes, beliefs, and expectancies. Assessing such change with self-report instruments may be problematic in offenders to the extent that they perceive that treatment success may secure privileges. This study assesses the extent to which increases in social desirability predict improvement in self-efficacy, perceptions of control, and perceived ability to cope and resist use of drugs. Male offenders in a moderate-intensity (N = 1,431) and a high-intensity (N = 316) substance abuse program were assessed before and after treatment on a range of beliefs and attitudes targeted in treatment, along with a measure of social desirability. Regression analyses indicate that those reporting the greatest increase in social desirability also reported the greatest improvement in attitudes and beliefs about drug and alcohol use, thereby suggesting that such self-report measures of change should be regarded with a degree of skepticism. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2014 APA, all rights reserved)








Human Services and Justice Coordinating Committee