The term Goody Two-Shoes has passed into the language to refer to an excessively virtuous person. It derived from a 1765 children's story sometimes questionably attributed to Oliver Goldsmith. Anyway, the desire to look good is a common human trait, only occasionally devolving into antisocial ways: the metaphorical form of a wolf wearing sheep's clothing.
The need to present oneself as looking good, or the need for social approval was subsumed in the term social desirability years ago. Think of this as a form of impression management. Most of us engage in situation-specific impression management; for example, this guides our dress and deportment on first dates, while visiting grandparents, going to job interviews, or meeting the President. Obviously, most of us would not expose a bare midriff, use profanity, slouch, tell a dirty joke, or wear flip-flops in those settings. Right?
The original scale for developing this trait was the 33-item Crowne-Marlowe Social Desirability Scale developed back in 1964. I have not been able to find the original scale, and it's kind of long for a blog anyway; however here is a brief measure of social desirability developed by Rahman Haghighat (2007).
To find out how much of this trait you have, just answer these five items either true or false:
1. Would you smile at people every time you meet them?
2. Do you always practice what you preach to people?
3. If you say to people that you will do something, do you always keep your promise no matter how inconvenient it might be?
4. Do you ever lie to people?
5. Would you ever laugh at a dirty joke people might make?
Scoring: Count one point for every "true" answer on the first three items, and "no" on the fourth one. The fifth item does not count in the scoring for various reasons; but mainly because it does not discriminate between people making a favorable impression and those who do not. For example, common social roles limit visible enjoyment of a dirty joke based on sex, age, age of the raconteur or listener, and other factors.
In general, her are some rough (Angel's) guidelines for interpretation:
4 points -- You're either lying shamelessly or expect canonization in the next go round. If the former, you qualify for public office.
3 -- You're high in social desirability. You are strongly motivated to be approved of by others.
2 -- You have some tendency to frame how other people think about you. This is not bad, though.
1 -- Possibly you have mild social desirability tendencies; but are not dominated by them. Or, you have a single quirk. Or you have internalized some guiding rules for your conduct. Anyways, don't worry.
0 -- You don't give a flip about what other people think about you. Bad kitty!
Lovely Lady Friday CCLVI
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