Get access

Sexual orientation harassment in the workplace: When do observers intervene?


  • Note added on 10 October 2011, following online publication on 27 July 2011: Tables and report OLS regression analyses, not logistic regression analyses as stated. Reanalysis of the data using logistic regression results in no changes in the conclusions regarding any of the hypotheses or any of the conclusions regarding the significance of any of the variables. An addendum to this article appears as “Ryan, A. M., & Wessel, J. L. (2011). Addendum to Sexual orientation harassment in the workplace: When do observers intervene? Journal of Organizational Behavior, doi: 10.1002/job.787,” where we provide the results of a comparative logistic regression analysis.

Ann Marie Ryan, Michigan State University—Psychology, 333 Psychology Bldg, East Lansing, Michigan 48824, U.S.A. E-mail:


Little is known about when and why observers of harassment incidents choose to intervene. On the basis of a model of observer intervention by Bowes-Sperry and O'Leary-Kelly (2005), we examined situational (directness of harassment, relationship to target, knowledge of target orientation, recurrence beliefs) variables as potential predictors of observer decisions to intervene when witnessing sexual orientation harassment. We also examined how costs and benefits analysis and recurrence beliefs relate to the level and immediacy of involvement. Relationship to the target, directness of the harassment, recurrence beliefs, knowledge of target orientation, and costs evidenced some connections to the nature of intervention. We discussed implications for organizations. Copyright © 2011 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.