An overview of the literature on sexual harassment: Perpetrator, theory, and treatment issues

Psychology Department, Keynes College, University of Kent, Canterbury KENT CT2 7NP, United Kingdom
Aggression and Violent Behavior (Impact Factor: 1.95). 03/2009; 14(2):126-138. DOI: 10.1016/j.avb.2009.01.002


Sexual harassment has been recognized as a serious problem in the literature over the past 30 years. In this paper, we review the existing research surrounding the phenomenon of sexual harassment, paying particular attention to factors of relevance for understanding perpetrators of sexual harassment. We also provide an overview of the perplexing nature of sexual harassment and the various concerns that have surrounded the topic leading to its recognition. The different theoretical perspectives and models of sexual harassment (sociocultural, organizational, sex-role spillover, natural/biological, socio-cognitive, and four-factor) are also considered and reviewed. Finally, lack of empirical evidence and focus on assessment and treatment for harassers is recognized in this paper, and several suggestions are made for future research and treatment avenues relating to the sexual harasser.

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    • "Carroll (2009) found that moral disengagement (as measured by the MDS) in male college fraternity members was negatively correlated with moral judgment and positively associated with rape supportive attitudes, including greater attribution of blame to a female victim of ambiguous acquaintance rape. Given consensus among many researchers that sexually harassing behavior lies along a continuum of sexual aggression (e.g., Begany & Milburn, 2002; Kelly, 1988; Lonsway et al., 2008; Pina et al., 2009; Quina, 1990 "
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    ABSTRACT: Sexual harassment represents aggressive behavior that is often enacted instrumentally, in response to a threatened sense of masculinity and male identity. To date, however, theoretical attention to the social cognitive processes that regulate workplace harassment is scant. This article presents the development and preliminary validation of the Moral Disengagement in Sexual Harassment Scale (MDiSH); a self-report measure of moral disengagement in the context of hostile work environment harassment. Three studies (total n = 797) document the excellent psychometric properties of this new scale. Male U.K. university students (Study 1: n = 322) and U.S. working males (Studies 2 and 3: n = 475) completed the MDiSH and an array of measures for construct validation. The MDiSH exhibited positive correlations with sexual harassment myth acceptance, male gender identification, and hostile sexism. In Study 3, participants were exposed to a fictitious case of hostile work environment harassment. The MDiSH attenuated moral judgment, negative emotions (guilt, shame, and anger), sympathy, and endorsement of prosocial behavioral intentions (support for restitution) associated with the harassment case. Conversely, the MDiSH increased positive affect (happiness) about the harassment and attribution of blame to the female complainant. Implications for practice and future research avenues are discussed. Aggr. Behav. 9999:1-20, 2015. © 2015 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.
    Aggressive Behavior 09/2015; DOI:10.1002/ab.21621 · 2.28 Impact Factor
    • "Accordingly, there is definitely a gender power difference or imbalance in sport organisations in general. But as mentioned above by Pina et al. (2009), according to the organisational theory it is not only power differences that facilitate sexually harassing behaviour – permissiveness of the organisational climate, gendered occupation and organisational ethics, norms and policies can each affect the likelihood of sexual harassment occurring. The question then is if the organisational climate in sports in general and more specific in the sports clubs that these young women participated in can explain the behaviour of the coaches? "
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    ABSTRACT: The occurrence of sexual harassment in sport was first revealed in studies in the mid-nineties, and during the last 10-15 years there has been an increasing focus on this problem both from scholars and from sport politicians. Most of the studies on sexual harassment in sport have been prevalence studies, but there is a marked variety of approaches to the subject both theoretical and methodological. Studies have shown that coaches often are the perpetrators and qualitative studies have documented risk factors as well as the athletes’ responses and coping mechanisms. However, very few studies so far have described with the athletes own words their experiences. Furthermore, there has also often been a lack of explanation for why such behaviours occur. Hence, the aim of this article was to present two Norwegian athletes’ narratives of their sexual harassment experiences from their coaches. This is followed by a discussion which incorporates different models that try to explain why sexual harassment occurs. All models seem in one way or another to focus on power as an important factor in understanding the occurrence of sexual harassment, and the two female athletes’ narratives are discussed in relation to the power relations that exist in sport both at the individual and at the organisational level. The article concludes with the importance of developing policies, including ethical guidelines and educational materials for coaches as well as for athletes to create safer sport.
    Qualitiative Research in Sport 02/2015; 7(5):1-16. DOI:10.1080/2159676X.2015.1008028
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    • "The above findings are a testament to the fact that sexual harassment is among the most prevalent forms of sexual aggression (Pina et al., 2009). However, its true incidence is hard to estimate because it is one of the least often reported crimes (Temkin & Krahé, 2008). "
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    ABSTRACT: Sexual harassment is among the most serious forms of gender violence, and what all violent acts have in common are the many myths associated with them. Three studies were conducted to adapt a Spanish version of the Illinois Sexual Harassment Myth Acceptance (ISHMA) scale, which assesses myths about sexual harassment. The first study aimed to, for the first time, present psychometric data on the Spanish version of the ISHMA. The participants were 339 college students. After adapting the items and measuring their content validity, we examined the test’s dimensional structure, statistically analyzed the items, and determined the instrument’s reliability (α = .91 for the total scale and between .77 and .84 for the different dimensions). Study 2 involved 326 adult participants from the general population and its objective was to evaluate the scale’s dimensional structure through confirmatory factor analysis (χ2 143 = 244.860, p < .001; GFI = .952; CFI = .958; RMSEA = .034 [.026 – .041]). The third study was conducted in order to measure convergent validity in both students and adults from the general population. Differences by gender were found in all dimensions being the females’ means higher than males (Cohen´s d between .38 and .62). Our findings suggest the Spanish version of the ISHMA is a useful instrument to study myths about sexual harassment.
    The Spanish Journal of Psychology 07/2014; 17(1):13. DOI:10.1017/sjp.2014.42 · 0.74 Impact Factor
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