Contextual information used by observers to determine whether or not a woman charging sexual harassment actually was harassed
AuthorGeer, Tracey M.
AdvisorBecker, Judith V.
MetadataShow full item record
PublisherThe University of Arizona.
RightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
AbstractThe courts have made how women respond to alleged sexual harassment a primary issue in determining if legal sexual harassment has occurred. There is an expectation that women who are harassed, often referred to as targets of harassment, will demonstrate that the behavior was unwelcome by reporting the incident. There is limited empirical support for this notion that observers' judgments of harassment are influenced by the demonstration of unwelcomeness through the target's response. This study investigated this notion by examining what factors impact observers' ratings of sexual harassment and evaluations of the target of harassment and her response in sexual harassment scenarios by including several manipulated contextual variables. The target's response, the frequency of the alleged harassing behavior, and the target's history of complaining about other workplace conditions were manipulated. Respondents (an undergraduate sample of psychology students) read a lengthy written scenario of a sexual harassment trial. The sex of the respondent was also recorded to determine if this variable affected the ratings and evaluations. The frequency of the alleged harassing behavior, the target's history of complaining about other workplace conditions, and sex of the respondent produced reliable differences in sexual harassment ratings. These ratings were higher in the conditions where the behavior was more frequent, the target did not have a history of complaining about other workplace conditions, and when the respondent was female. These same variables produced reliable differences in ratings of the target, with the target being viewed more favorably when the behavior was more frequent, the target did not have a history of complaining about other workplace conditions, and when the respondent was female. The target's response and sex of the respondent produced reliable differences in ratings of the target's response with reporting the behavior having the highest ratings of appropriateness and men having higher ratings of response effectiveness than women in all conditions. Contrary to assumptions made in the law that reporting serves as a signal that the behavior was unwelcome and therefore harassing, target response did not impact any ratings of harassment or evaluations of the target.
Degree ProgramGraduate College