Reaction s to Sexual Harassment Ch arges
Between North Am ericans an d Brazilians
Eros R. DeSouza
an d Joh n B. Pryor
Illinois State Un iversity
Clau dio S. Hutz
Universidade Federal do Rio G rande do Sul
This investigation exam ined the im pact of gender and culture on reactions to
sexu al h arassm en t charges. Specifically, we explo red the d egree of th e
pun ishm en t recom mended in respon se to allegations of sexual harassm ent in
an academ ic context. North Am erican (n = 330, average age = 20.57 years,
90% Caucasian ) an d Brazilian (n = 214, average age = 21.62 years, 95%
Caucasian ) undergradu ates read a fictitiou s newspaper article that described
an alleged case of sexual harassm ent involving a male instructor and a fem ale
undergraduate. The alleged perpetrator
s power, his professed rom antic interest
in the target, an d the salien ce of discrim ination concerns were manipu lated.
Participants rated the degree to which his action s were pu nishable. Overall,
wom en an d No rth Am ericans advocated more punish m en t to the alleged
harasser than men an d Brazilian s, respectively. Conditions that increase or
redu ce the pun ishm ent ratings are discu ssed.
Sexual harassme nt is a form of gender-base d discrimination, involving un-
welcome sexual or sexist behaviors in work or educational settings (Equal
Employme nt Opportunity Commission, 1993) . Surveys show sexual harass-
ment is a common occurre nce in U.S. universitie s with 20% to 75% of
stude nts re porting an expe rie nce of some form of se xual harassme nt
(McKinne y, 1994) .
Sex Roles, Vol. 39, Nos. 11/12, 1998
1998 Plenum Publishing Corporation
Preliminary findings were prese nted at the 105 APA An nual Convention in Chicago, IL,
To whom correspondence should be addressed at Departmen t of Psychology (4620) , Illinois
State University, Normal, Illinois 61790-4620; e-mail: erdesou@ ilstu.edu.