Journal of Applied Social Psychology

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Volume 21 Issue 16 (August 1991), Pages 1293-1378

Moderating Effects of Personal Cognitions on Experienced and Perceived Sexual Harassment of Women at the Workplace (pages 1320-1337)

This study investigated actual and perceived sexual harassment (SH), as well as the discrepancy between them of women in the workplace, as related to several factual and perceptual variables which were selected on the basis of theoretical considerations and previous findings (i.e., harasser status, workplace sex ratio, and perceptions of intensity of intergender interaction, normative beliefs about SH, and personal attractiveness). The sample included 138 women. employed in four organizations, who responded to anonymous questionnaires. Results showed that women reported engagement in diverse actual SH episodes, which varied in frequency (2% to 27%) along five levels of SH severity continuum. Only 10.1% of the women perceived these episodes as sexual harassing. It was found that the higher the severity of the SH episode, the stronger was the tendency to perceive it as sexual harassing. While actual SH was found to be significantly correlated with all research variables (R= .49), perceived SH was only related to normative beliefs about SH (r= .38), and the discrepancy mainly to personal attractiveness (r= ‐.21). Various implications of the findings were discussed in light of social judgment perspective.

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