The Factorial Survey: An Approach to Defining Sexual Harassment on Campus


Department of Psychology, University of California, Los Angeles, CA 90024


A factorial survey was used to assess perceptions of sexual harassment in the context of faculty-student relations in a university setting. Results of a survey of undergraduate students and faculty at the University of California, Santa Barbara, revealed a high degree of consensus in defining cases of sexual harassment. Across respondent populations, judgments of harassment were most influenced by the nature of the behaviors and intentions of the male instructor in the situation. Results also indicated that information about any past relationship between instructor and student and about suggestive behaviors on the part of the student tended to modify harassment judgments and to introduce disagreement among respondents as to whether an incident constituted a case of sexual harassment.