Sex Roles, Vol. 52, Nos. 3/4, February 2005 (
Cross-Cultural Reactions to Academic Sexual Harassment:
Effects of Individualist vs. Collectivist Culture
and Gender of Participants
Margaret S. Gibbs,
Carrol S. Perrino,
Hale Bolak Boratav,
Berna van Baarsen,
Joop van der Pligt,
and Wei-Kang Pan
Male and female university students from the United States, Canada, Germany, the
Netherlands, Ecuador, Pakistan, the Philippines, Taiwan, and Turkey read a standardized
scenario in which a male professor was accused of sexually harassing a female graduate stu-
dent. Respondents from individualist countries judged the professor to be guilty of sexual ha-
rassment more often than did those from collectivist countries. Women rendered signiﬁcantly
more guilty judgments and assigned more severe punishments to the accused professor than
did men. Implications for the individualist–collectivist classiﬁcation system and cross-cultural
research are discussed.
KEY WORDS: sexual; harassment; culture; gender.
In the last 20 years, sexual harassment has be-
come a topic of concern and a focus of psychological
research in the United States. Almost one-half of all
women in the United States probably have been sex-
ually harassed (e.g., U.S. Merit Systems Protection
Board, 1981, 1995), and the negative effects of ha-
rassment on physical and emotional well-being have
been documented (e.g., Goodman, Koss, & Russo,
1993; Harned & Fitzgerald, 2002).
Researchers have been slower to investigate the
impact of sexual harassment multiculturally (e.g.,
Shupe, Cortina, Ramos, Fitzgerald, & Salisbury,
2002) or cross-culturally. In the present study, we
Fairleigh Dickinson University, Teaneck, New Jersey.
Morgan State University, Baltimore, Maryland.
Istanbul Bilgi University, Istanbul, Turkey.
Angeles University Foundation, Angeles City, the Philippines.
VU University Medical Centre, Amsterdam, The Netherlands.
University of Amsterdam, Amsterdam, The Netherlands.
Modern Women’s Foundation, Taipei, Taiwan.
To whom correspondence should be addressed at Psychology De-
partment, Fairleigh Dickinson University, Teaneck, New Jersey
07666; e-mail: email@example.com.
investigated and compared attitudes toward sexual
harassment across nine countries with widely vary-
ing geographic, political, and cultural backgrounds.
These countries are the United States, Canada,
Germany, the Netherlands, Ecuador, Pakistan, the
Philippines, Taiwan, and Turkey. These countries
have been grouped into individualist and collectivist
cultures, and hypotheses about attitudes toward sex-
ual harassment have been tested on that basis.
Cross-Cultural Incidence of Sexual Harassment
Surveys of the incidence of sexual harassment in
Canada have found it similar to, and possibly higher
than, the incidence in the United States. Crocker
and Kalemba (1999) established that 56% of work-
ing women in Canada had experienced sexual ha-
rassment in the previous year and that 77% had
experienced it in their lifetime. On the basis of a
broad deﬁnition of harassment that included being
stared at, and including public places as well as the
workplace and academic settings, 91% of Canadian
2005 Springer Science+Business Media, Inc.