Socially Desirable Responding

They all deceive their neighbors, and no one speaks the truth… Jeremiah 9:5 NRSV

42-15737535I ask my psychology students to conduct a survey each semester. I want them to get a feel for doing real research.

One of the surveys asks, “What are the top five things that make you happy?” One semester a student reported the answers of a mall shopper. After the shopper finished the survey, he said, “Now do you want to really know what makes me happy?” He then went on to list things like alcohol and drugs.

That shows people aren’t always honest in describing themselves. Typically, especially when put on the spot, people tell you what you want to hear. Researchers call that socially desirable responding.

I think the more sensitive the topic is, the more likely people are to answer in socially desirable ways. That is especially true when it comes to matters of faith. Today’s video vividly illustrates that point by contrasting the witness a young man professes, with the thoughts the young man is thinking. To view the video, please click here

Thankfully, God knows the heart. God looks behind our words MP900443136[1]and searches our inner being. What we say many sound good and create a respectable image. But the faith we profess is of little use if it does not match how we truly think and feel on the inside. The truth lies within.

God knows what you and I really think. Why not be honest, and talk with God about where you really are in your faith journey. Then invite Jesus to meet you there. As you do, he will lead you to where God really wants you to be!

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