Dimensions of percieved sexual harassment: Effects of gender, and status/liking of protagonist

Philip J. Corr, Chris J. Jackson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Citations (Scopus)


We explored individual differences in males’ and females’ perceptions of potentially sexually harassing male behaviours in two studies, using a questionnaire design. In the first study, based on perceptions of an undergraduate population, principal components analysis supported the hypothesis of two independent dimensions: unwanted sexual attention (e.g. touching and kissing) and gender harassment (e.g. crude and sexist remarks). Results for the liked/disliked boss factor, indicated that male and female respondents rated both forms of sexual harassment as more serious by a disliked boss than by a liked boss; but males rated gender harassment as less serious than females. In the second study, based on employees working in a university setting, males once again took a more charitable view of gender harassment, but not unwanted sexual attention; and, compared with females, males believed sexual harassment to be less common in the workplace. Male/female respondents also rated seriousness in relation to three levels of status (boss, colleague, subordinate): across both dimensions, the order of rated seriousness for status of protagonist (colleague<subordinate<boss) suggested that the appropriateness of the behaviour in terms of the situation was important. Results from both studies indicate that subjective factors play an influential role in the designation of male behaviour as ‘sexually harassing’. Findings are discussed in terms of proximal-level attribution theory and ultimate-level evolutionary theory. Implications of these data and theories for workplace interventions are outlined.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)525-539
Number of pages15
JournalPersonality and Individual Differences
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2001

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