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Social Perception of Women According to their Reactions to a Stranger Harassment Situation (piropo)

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In the present research we explored how women are perceived as a function of their reactions to a harassing situation (piropo). Piropos, which are very common in Spain, are appearance-related comments directed by men to unknown women on the street. In Study 1, participants read hypothetical vignettes where a woman reacted positively, negatively, or indifferently (between-participants design) to a “mild/gallant” piropo. Men and women (n = 118) evaluated the competence, warmth, capacity for leadership, and superficiality/profoundness of the target of the piropo. Study 2 (n = 289) was similar to Study 1 (only with a within-participants design) and included additional dependent variables concerning the target’s likeability and participants’ intention to establish interpersonal relations with the woman in the scenario. Results showed that both male and female participants expressed less liking for the woman who reacted positively to the piropo as well as a lower intention to establish interpersonal relations with her; they also viewed this woman as less competent and more superficial. The relation between the woman’s reaction to the piropo and her likeability was mediated by the superficiality and competence with which she was perceived. The results of both studies revealed negative consequences for women who react positively to situations in which male strangers pay attention to their body. Policymakers, media, activists, and educators should be aware of how the conformity of women with traditional gender stereotypes--in this case feeling happy because they are valued by their physical appearance--can also have negative consequences for them similar to other hostile forms of stranger harassment.

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The present research has been conducted in the framework of project PSI2016-79812-P, funded by the Spanish Ministry of Economy, Industry and Competitiveness. This study is part of Alba Moya-Garófano’s doctoral dissertation (grant AP2010-3622 from the Spanish Ministry of Education, Culture and Sport).

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Moya-Garófano, A., Moya, M., Megías, J.L. et al. Social Perception of Women According to their Reactions to a Stranger Harassment Situation (piropo). Sex Roles (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11199-019-01103-2

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  • Women
  • Stranger harassment
  • Objectification
  • Social perception
  • Competence
  • Superficiality