Differential Effects of Gender on Perceptions of Stalking and Harassment Behavior

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Abstract

This study examined the effect of gender on perceptions of stalking following the breakup of a romantic relationship. Three hundred forty-nine university students were presented with 11 brief scenarios in which the gender of the target and pursuer of the harassment behavior were systematically varied. Participants were asked to rate the degree to which they considered the behavior stalking, how concerned they would be if this was happening to a friend, and the likelihood that they would recommend help seeking. Participants were significantly more likely to express concern for and to recommend both informal and formal help seeking when the scenarios described a man stalking a woman. This research is important in understanding factors that influence perceptions of stalking and harassment, which may have repercussions for the legislation and enforcement of stalking laws.

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