Original Article

Sex Roles

, Volume 55, Issue 3, pp 187-195

Upsetting Behavior: Reactions to Personal and Bystander Sexual Harassment Experiences

  • Robert T. HitlanAffiliated withDepartment of Psychology, University of Northern IowaUniversity of Northern Iowa Email author 
  • , Kimberly T. SchneiderAffiliated withIllinois State University
  • , Benjamin M. WalshAffiliated withUniversity of Northern Iowa

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The current research was designed to examine objective and contextual factors related to the appraisal of potentially sexually harassing situations. Working female participants (n = 208) from a mid-sized southwestern university completed a workplace experiences survey in small groups. The majority of participants were Hispanic/Latina (77.9%). We predicted that characteristics of personal harassment experiences (e.g., number of distinct types of behaviors experienced, frequency, duration) and bystander harassment experiences would contribute independently to how upset women were by their own sexual harassment experiences. Results indicated that characteristics of personal harassment experiences and bystander experiences did predict how upset women were by their own gender harassment and by unwanted sexual attention experiences. Results are discussed in terms of the importance of considering multiple types of workplace stressors (e.g., personal and bystander sexual harassment experiences) and their relation to the appraisal process.


Sexual harassment Bystander harassment Appraisal Workplace stress