Simple and Joint Effects of Gender and Self-Esteem on Responses to Same-Sex Sexual Harassment

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Abstract

In a sample of 431 white-collar professionals, we examined the impact of gender and self-esteem on individuals' intentions to seek legal counsel, confront the harasser, and make formal reports within the organization in response to approach-based same-sex sexual harassment. We hypothesized that gender, self-esteem, and their interaction would be related to assertive responses. All three hypotheses received support: men were more likely than women to respond assertively; self-esteem was positively related to response intentions; and self-esteem had a greater impact on men's responses than on women's responses. These results suggest that frameworks used to describe responses to cross-sex sexual harassment may not be adequate for same-sex sexual harassment. Post hoc analyses revealed that perceiving the behavior as harassment mediated the relationship between self-esteem and the responses to harassment, but did not mediate the relationships between gender and the responses to harassment. These findings contribute to the research on acknowledging sexual harassment.

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