Situational and Individual Influences on Judgments of Hostile Environment Sexual Harassment1


  • 1

    An earlier version of this article was presented at the 104th annual meeting of the American Psychological Association, August 1996, during the symposium “Responses to Sexual Harassment— A Multiple Perspective Approach,” chaired by Jim Schmidtke.

2 Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Jennifer Hurt, Psychological Sciences, Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN 47907. e-mail:


The current research examines the judgment processes of third-party evaluators of sexual harassment situations. Four situational variables were hypothesized to influence ratings of situation appropriateness and judgments of sexual harassment. The evaluator's gender and personality also were hypothesized to influence both ratings. Participants were 73 male and 51 female undergraduate students. Results indicated that behavior severity and victim response significantly influenced ratings. The frequency of the behavior influenced appropriateness ratings, but interacted with behavior severity for harassment judgments. The effects of the gender of the evaluator were mediated by the evaluator's level of tolerance for harassment. The effects of the power relationship and rater personality were not significant.