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Cat-Calls and Culpability: Investigating the Frequency and Functions of Stranger Harassment

Abstract

Stranger harassment is defined as experiencing unwanted sexual attention from strangers in public contexts. We conducted two studies investigating the person and situation factors of U.S. undergraduate males that facilitate stranger harassment. Men from a large Midwestern university indicated their engagement in harassment both when alone and in groups, as well as their motives for this behavior in both settings. We also assessed their Likelihood to Sexually Harass (LSH). We predicted that high LSH men would be most likely to report engaging in harassment when in groups, compared to when alone. We also predicted these group behaviors would be motivated by anonymity and group bonding. Results support our hypotheses about the predictors and motives of stranger harassment in college men.

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Acknowledgement

We would like to thank Nicole Capezza, Amanda Wesselmann, and two anonymous reviewers for their substantive comments on earlier versions of this paper.

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Correspondence to Eric D. Wesselmann.

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Wesselmann, E.D., Kelly, J.R. Cat-Calls and Culpability: Investigating the Frequency and Functions of Stranger Harassment. Sex Roles 63, 451–462 (2010). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11199-010-9830-2

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Keywords

  • Stranger harassment
  • Sexual harassment
  • Group bonding
  • Anonymity
  • Cat-calls