Volume 12

Men’s and Women’s Perceptions of Sexual Harassment

Meghan A. Toscano, Tina M. Gates, and Allison L. Sbordone

This study investigated how males and females perceive sexual harassment of a female and if provocative dress plays a role in the perception of sexual harassment. Participants included 135 Framingham State College students (61 men). Participants were randomly assigned to read 1 of 4 scenarios that depicted a woman (provocatively dressed or not) being harassed (high or low level) by a male stranger. Students responded to an instrument assessing the perceived degree of harassment. Scales included the Harassment Attitude Scale, Harassing, the Uncertain, and Not Harassing Scale, the Mastery Scale and a demographic questionnaire. Findings showed no differences between males and females when rating low harassment scenarios and no difference between men and women who rated a high threat scenario versus a low threat scenario. When the victim dressed provocatively male participants rated high and low threat situations the same. Lastly, there was no difference in the level of powerlessness between students who were harassed and students who were not harassed.

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