Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Study finds surprising gender differences related to sexual harassment

Date:
April 1, 2011
Source:
Michigan State University
Summary:
Sexual harassment may have become so commonplace for women that they have built up resistance to harassing behavior they consider merely "bothersome," suggests a provocative new study.

Sexual harassment may have become so commonplace for women that they have built up resistance to harassing behavior they consider merely "bothersome," suggests a provocative new study by Michigan State University researchers.

This effect, said lead investigator Isis Settles, may be similar to the way people build up immunity to infection following exposure to a virus.

"When women view sexual harassment as bothersome, it doesn't seem to be associated with distress," said Settles, associate professor of psychology. "In some ways this suggests that sexual harassment is such a widespread problem that women have figured out ways to deal with it so it doesn't interfere with their psychological well-being."

For the study, which appears in the research journal Social Psychological and Personality Science, the researchers examined surveys of more than 6,000 women and men serving in all five branches of the U.S. military.

Sexual harassment was a problem for both sexes, the study found. More than 50 percent of women and nearly 20 percent of men reported at least one incident of sexual harassment during a 12-month period.

The study is one of the first to examine how both men and women view harassment -- whether they saw it as bothersome or frightening -- and how these perceptions relate to their psychological well-being, Settles said. The survey covered 16 types of verbal and physical harassment, including offensive stories or jokes and touching that made the person uncomfortable.

For women, sexual harassment was distressing when they saw it as frightening, but not when they saw it as bothersome. "We were surprised by this finding," Settles said. "We thought women would be negatively impacted if they saw their harassment as frightening or bothersome."

For men, sexual harassment was distressing when they saw it as either frightening or bothersome, she said.

"People tend to underestimate the impact of sexual harassment on men," Settles said. She added that men "typically haven't had a lifetime of experiences dealing with sexual harassment and may not know how to deal with it when it happens to them."

Settles said the study does not suggest sexual harassment is less distressing for women than men.

The MSU research team also includes psychology professors Zaje Harrell and NiCole Buchanan, and doctoral candidate Stevie Yap.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Michigan State University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. I. H. Settles, Z. A. T. Harrell, N. T. Buchanan, S. C. Y. Yap. Frightened or Bothered: Two Types of Sexual Harassment Appraisals. Social Psychological and Personality Science, 2011; DOI: 10.1177/1948550611402520

Cite This Page:

Michigan State University. "Study finds surprising gender differences related to sexual harassment." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 1 April 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/03/110330101242.htm>.
Michigan State University. (2011, April 1). Study finds surprising gender differences related to sexual harassment. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 31, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/03/110330101242.htm
Michigan State University. "Study finds surprising gender differences related to sexual harassment." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/03/110330101242.htm (accessed July 31, 2014).

Share This




More Mind & Brain News

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Dieting At A Young Age Might Lead To Harmful Health Habits

Dieting At A Young Age Might Lead To Harmful Health Habits

Newsy (July 30, 2014) Researchers say women who diet at a young age are at greater risk of developing harmful health habits, including eating disorders and alcohol abuse. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
It's Not Just Facebook: OKCupid Experiments With Users Too

It's Not Just Facebook: OKCupid Experiments With Users Too

Newsy (July 29, 2014) If you've been looking for love online, there's a chance somebody has been looking at how you're looking. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
How Your Face Can Leave A Good Or Bad First Impression

How Your Face Can Leave A Good Or Bad First Impression

Newsy (July 29, 2014) Researchers have found certain facial features can make us seem more attractive or trustworthy. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Losing Sleep Leaves You Vulnerable To 'False Memories'

Losing Sleep Leaves You Vulnerable To 'False Memories'

Newsy (July 27, 2014) A new study shows sleep deprivation can make it harder for people to remember specific details of an event. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

    Environment News

    Technology News



      Save/Print:
      Share:

      Free Subscriptions


      Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

      Get Social & Mobile


      Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

      Have Feedback?


      Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
      Mobile: iPhone Android Web
      Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
      Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
      Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins