Social Desirability as an Adaptive Motivation to Social Evaluation in Student Teachers

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Early-career teacher stress, burnout and attrition are growing problems in the United States. The current study focused on the impact of social desirability on positive and negative constructs (i.e. positive-negative affect, coping-perceived stress reactivity) in a group of student-teachers beginning their teaching internships. Additionally, this research also proposed a new definition of social desirability, as an adaptive motivation to social evaluation, based on the patterns of relationships between social desirability and the aforementioned constructs. These definitions were assessed a sample of 61 student-teachers from the University of Maryland’s teacher preparation program who were completing their senior year internship. As many forms of research rely on self-reports, social desirability’s role as a validity confound has been widely documented, however, its relationship to individual well-being has not been investigated as widely. The bias perspective of social desirability was not consistent with the results of this study.