Archives of Sexual Behavior

, Volume 27, Issue 6, pp 561–580 | Cite as

Sexual Harassment: Identifying Risk Factors

  • Elizabeth A. O'Hare
  • William O'Donohue


A new model of the etiology of sexual harassment,the four-factor model, is presented and compared with several models of sexual harassment including the biological model, the organizational model, the sociocultural model,and the sexrole spillover model. A number of risk factors associated with sexually harassing behavior are examined within the framework of the four-factor model of sexual harassment. These include characteristics of the work environment (e.g., sexist attitudes among co-workers, unprofessional work environment, skewed sex ratios in the workplace, knowledge of grievance procedures for sexual harassment incidents) as well as personal characteristics of the subject (e.g., physical attractiveness, job status, sexrole). Subjects were 266 university female faculty, staff, and students who completed the Sexual Experience Questionnaire to assess the experience of sexual harassment and a questionnaire designed to assess the risk factors stated above. Results indicated that the four-factor model is a better predictor of sexual harassment than the alternative models. The risk factors most strongly associated with sexual harassment were an unprofessional environment in the workplace, sexist atmosphere, and lack of knowledge about the organization's formal grievance procedures.



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© Plenum Publishing Corporation 1998

Authors and Affiliations

  • Elizabeth A. O'Hare
  • William O'Donohue

There are no affiliations available

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