This article provides a meta-analysis of studies using the crosswise model (CM) in estimating the prevalence of sensitive characteristics in different samples and populations. On a data set of 141 items published in 33 either articles or books, we compare the difference (Δ) between estimates based on the CM and a direct question (DQ). The overall effect size of Δ is 4.88; 95% CI [4.56, 5.21]. The results of a meta-regression indicate that Δ is smaller when general populations and nonprobability samples are considered. The population effect suggests an education effect: Differences between the CM and DQ estimates are more likely to occur when highly educated populations, such as students, are studied. Our findings raise concerns to what extent the CM is able to improve estimates of sensitive behavior in general population samples.
- sensitive characteristics
- social desirability