Ideology or experience? The relationships among perceptions, attitudes, and experiences of sexual harassment in university students

Abstract

Relationships among sexual harassment experiences, perceptions about harassment (definitions, seriousness ratings, commonness estimates), and attitudes (about both harassment and sex roles) were examined in order to investigate the role of ideology and consciousness in the reporting of sexual harassment experiences. University students responding to a survey were divided by sex (74 males, 136 females) and level of harassment experience (high, moderate, low) in a 3×2 factorial design. Results indicated that high experiencers estimated that sexual harassment was made common among other students than those with less experience. Other perceptual variables and attitudes were unrelated to experience level. Significant sex differences were present for definitions, for the Sexual Harassment Attitude Scale, and for the Macho Scale. Significant relationships were also present among definitions, seriousness ratings, and the two attitude measures. Results suggest that reporting experiences of harassment appears relatively independent of ideology or a sensitized consciousness. Implications for issues of representativeness of samples in harassment survey research are discussed.

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Correspondence to Donald B. Mazer.

Additional information

This research was supported by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada Grant in Aid of Small Universities for UPEI.

We gratefully acknowledge the invaluable work of our research assistants, Katie McInnis and Anne Marie McInnis.

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Mazer, D.B., Percival, E.F. Ideology or experience? The relationships among perceptions, attitudes, and experiences of sexual harassment in university students. Sex Roles 20, 135–147 (1989). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00287987

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Keywords

  • Significant Relationship
  • Social Psychology
  • Factorial Design
  • Sexual Harassment
  • Attitude Measure