Liar, liar, pants on fire! Social desirability bias in software piracy research

Marton Gergely, V. Srinivasan Rao

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Measures of ethical behaviours in research may be subject to social desirability bias (SDB). Most behavioural aspects of software piracy research are a subset of ethical research. Few studies of software piracy have explicitly addressed the issue of SDB. In this article, the extent of SDB that may be present in software piracy is empirically assessed. This was done by comparing SDB in software piracy under three conditions using the 40-item Balanced Inventory of Desirable Responding (BIDR) scale. First, software piracy behaviour was examined in an experimental setting with actual money at stake. This allowed subject behaviour to be observed rather than inferred from self-report responses. Second, a survey was conducted to test the extent of software piracy based on subject self-report responses. Third, the extent of software piracy was also assessed based on peer-report responses (i.e.: the subject reported whether their peers would pirate). A comparison of the responses in the three conditions allows us to draw inferences about SDB in software piracy research. Self-report surveys exhibited high levels of SDB. The behaviour in the experimental condition, and responses in the peer-report survey method, did not exhibit SDB.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2796-2818
Number of pages23
JournalBehaviour and Information Technology
Issue number13
Publication statusPublished - 2022


  • Software piracy
  • digital media
  • information system ethics
  • intellectual property theft
  • social desirability bias

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • General Social Sciences
  • Human-Computer Interaction


Dive into the research topics of 'Liar, liar, pants on fire! Social desirability bias in software piracy research'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this