Powerful Men More Inclined to Sexually Harass When They Fear Being Perceived As Incompetent

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Leah Halper, PhD Associate Director Office of Student Life Center for the Study of Student Life Columbus, OH 43210

Dr. Halper

Leah Halper, PhD
Associate Director
Office of Student Life Center for the Study of Student Life
Columbus, OH 43210

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

 Response: We started to run these studies in 2014 given mutual research interests that we shared. We knew that there was much research on sexual harassment that focused on the victim, the victim’s experience and the reporting process for sexual harassment. This work is extremely valuable. We noticed, however, that there was less research on the perpetrator and if there were personality variables related to the likelihood of sexual harassment. In our studies, we demonstrate that a personality variable (Fear of Negative Evaluation, or anxiety that others will see one as incompetent) is related to sexual harassment among men in powerful positions. Our results held up after taking into account other personality variables, such as narcissism and self-esteem. Also, we found that men who felt insecure in their power (i.e., those that were anxious that others would see them as incompetent) were more likely to engage in both quid pro quo harassment – asking for sexual favors in return for something else – and gender harassment – creating a hostile environment for women.

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