Should Positive Psychology Researchers Control for Response Style?

L. T. De Beer, L. van der Vaart, L. Uziel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This study investigates self-deceptive enhancement (SDE) as a control for response style in measuring positive psychology constructs, focusing on work engagement and three self-reported individual performance components. Addressing the critiques of positive psychology, particularly its reliance on self-report measures and susceptibility to method variance, we examine the role of SDE—characterised by unconsciously inflated self-perceptions—in self-reported surveys. Using latent variable modelling with different model specifications, we assess the impact of controlling for SDE in the relationship between work engagement and self-reported performance outcomes in a sample of small and medium enterprise employees. Our results show that the baseline model, not accounting for SDE, indicates statistically significant paths between work engagement and all three performance outcomes. However, when SDE is controlled for as a marker variable or a predictor, these relationships change significantly, with a notable reduction in the explained variance for two of the three performance components. The results highlight how SDE can impact substantive findings, underscoring the importance of considering controlling for SDE as an unconscious response style in positive psychology research. All in all, controlling for SDE may become necessary for improving the accuracy and consistency of research results in this field.

Original languageEnglish
JournalInternational Journal of Applied Positive Psychology
StateAccepted/In press - 2024

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s) 2024.


Liad Uziel’s contribution was supported by a grant from the Israel Science Foundation (ISF grant No. 133/23).

FundersFunder number
Israel Science Foundation133/23


    • Control variable
    • Marker variable
    • Response style
    • Self-deceptive enhancement
    • Social desirability


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