Sexual Harassment at Work: Three Explanatory Models


Department of Psychology, Howard University, Washington, D.C. 20059


This article explores three models of sexual harassment derived from previous research, court cases and legal defenses: the Natural/Biological Model, the Organizational Model, and the Sociocultural Model. Data from a large (N=20, 083) stratified random sample of the federal workforce are analyzed in relation to these models. No clear-cut support for any one model emerges, and the picture of sexual harassment painted by these data appears to be more complex and varied than earlier, self-selected samples initially suggested. The results are discussed in light of the difficulties of using large-scale survey techniques to investigate complex cultural phenomena, and suggestions are made for future research approaches that could complement survey techniques.