Perceptions of sexual harassment: The effects of gender, legal standard, and ambivalent sexism

Richard L. Wiener, Linda Hurt, Brenda L. Russell, Kelley Mannen, Charles Gasper

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

68 Scopus citations

Abstract

This research tests the possibility that the reasonable woman as compared to the reasonable person test of hostile work environment sexual harassment interacts with hostile and benevolent sexist beliefs and under some conditions triggers protectionist attitudes toward women who complain of sexual harassment. We administered to a sample of undergraduates the ambivalent sexism inventory along with the fact patterns in two harassment cases and asked them to make legally relevant decisions under either the reasonable woman or person standard. We found that those high in hostile sexism, and women, found more evidence of harassment. However, those high in benevolent sexism did not exhibit the hostile sexism effects. Although men were less sensitive to the reasonable woman standard than women, under some conditions the reasonable woman standard enabled both genders to find greater evidence of harassment. The results are discussed from the perspectives of law and psychology.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)71-93
Number of pages23
JournalLaw and human behavior
Volume21
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Feb 28 1997

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Psychology(all)
  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Law

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