Although the negative consequences and prevalence rates of sexual imposition are widely known through self-report surveys, currently there are few laboratory paradigms to examine the determinants of this type of behavior, especially peer sexual harassment. The purpose of the present study was to examine the effects of two types of peer interactions on peer sexual harassment among college students using a laboratory paradigm of sexually oriented joke telling as an analogue of sexual harassment. Results from two different experiments revealed an effect of type of peer interaction on sexually oriented joke telling. In Experiment 1, male college students, who were exposed to a male peer who modeled sexually harassing behavior, subsequently told significantly more sexually oriented jokes to an unknown female peer than did male students exposed to a male peer who modeled nonsexually harassing behavior. In Experiment 2, male college students, who were exposed to a male peer who was seemingly sexist in his interaction with them, subsequently told significantly more sexually oriented jokes to an unknown female peer than did male students exposed to a male peer who was seemingly nonsexist in his interactions with them. These results suggest that peer interactions may serve as a disinhibiting situational factor of sexually harassing behaviors perpetrated by male college students on female peers. The results also provide further validity for the use of a laboratory paradigm for the study of peer sexual harassment.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Gender Studies
- Social Psychology
- Developmental and Educational Psychology