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A REFINED COMPUTER HARASSMENT PARADIGM: VALIDATION, AND TEST OF HYPOTHESES ABOUT TARGET CHARACTERISTICS

Authors


  • Frank Siebler, Saskia Sabelus, and Gerd Bohner, Department of Psychology, University of Bielefeld, Bielefeld, Germany. Frank Siebler is now at the Department of Psychology, University of Tromsø, Tromsø, Norway. Saskia Sabelus is now at the Department of Psychology, Goldsmiths College, University of London, London, United Kingdom.

  • The reported research was funded by a Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft grant (BO 1248/5-1) to Gerd Bohner. Study 2 was conducted by Saskia Sabelus as part of her diploma thesis at the University of Bielefeld under the supervision of Gerd Bohner and Frank Siebler. Preliminary reports of these data were presented at the 18th Annual Conference of the Feminist and Women's Studies Association (United Kingdom and Ireland) on “Gender and Violence,” Aberdeen, UK, September 9–11, 2005, and the 48th “Tagung experimentell arbeitender Psychologen,” Mainz, Germany, March 26-29, 2006.

  • We thank Anne Maass for helpful advice and generously sharing the original stimulus materials of the Italian Likelihood to Sexually Harass Scale; Rita Boeing, Antje Huber, Stephanie Maibaum, Ute Michaelis, and Xenia Polotzek for their help in data collection; and Marc Becher and Friederike Eyssel for their helpful comments on a previous draft.

Address correspondence and reprint requests to: Frank Siebler, Department of Psychology, University of Tromsø, 9037 Tromsø, Norway. E-mail: frank@psyk.uit.no

Abstract

A refined computer paradigm for assessing sexual harassment is presented, validated, and used for testing substantive hypotheses. Male participants were given an opportunity to send sexist jokes to a computer-simulated female chat partner. In Study 1 (N= 44), the harassment measure (number of sexist jokes sent) correlated positively with self-reported harassment proclivity. Study 2 (N= 77) included a more elaborate cover story, variations of the female target's attitude (feminist vs. traditional) and physical attractiveness (low vs. high), and additional measures for construct validation. Results showed that harassment correlated positively with self-reported harassment proclivity, hostile sexism, and male identity. Feminist targets were harassed more than traditional targets, whereas target attractiveness had no effect. Theoretical and applied implications are discussed.

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