Sex Roles, Vol. 41, No s. 9/10, 1999
Studying Sexual Harassm ent in the Laboratory: A re
Egalitarian Wom en at Higher Risk?
Ele na Dall’A ra an d A nn e Maass
ersity o f Pado
A laborato ry exp erim en t is reported in w hich m ale particip an ts in Northern
Italy (N 5 120 uni
ersity students) were gi
en the opp ortunity to send porn o-
grap hic m aterial to a female in teractio n partner (``com puter harassm ent para-
digm ’ ’ ). The alleged gender-role orien tatio n of the female (traditio nal
egalitarian ) an d the co nstrual of the in teractio n as either in tergroup or in ter-
perso nal were
aried system atically. Resu lts sh ow that particip an ts molest
fem ale interactio n partners m ore when they express egalitarian rath er than
traditio nal gen der-role attitudes; this is particu larly true for m ales with a high
pro pensity to harass (high scores on like lihood of se xual harassme nt scale ,
Pryo r, 1987), with sexist attitudes, with a stro ng identi® cation as ``males,’ ’
an d for lo w self-m onitors. A lso , m ales with a high pro pen sity to harass
were m ore likely to harass their in teractio n partner w hen they percei
situ atio n as a m ale-fem ale inter-gro up setting (rath er than as interperso nal).
Results are in terp reted as su pportin g a social id en tity acco unt of miso gyny.
INTR OD UCTION
In re cent ye ars the proble m of se xual harassm e nt has re ce ive d increas-
ing atte ntion both in North A merica and Europe , as re ¯ ecte d by an incre ase
in media cove rage , legal suits and, in some are as, by important change s in
legal and normative re gulations. Initially brought to the atte ntion of the
gene ral public by labor organization s and feminist groups, the proble m has
now be en addre ssed by legislators as well as by social scie ntists in diffe rent
areas of the world. In particular, it is now widely recognize d that se xual
To whom corre spondence should be addre ssed at D.P.S.S ., Un ive rsitaÁ di Padova, Via V e ne zia,
8, 35139 Padova, Italy.
1999 Plenum Pu bl ish in g Cor po rati on