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Sexual harassment under social identity threat: the computer harassment paradigm

Sexual harassment under social identity threat: the computer harassment paradigm

Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 85(5): 853-870

Two laboratory experiments investigated the hypothesis that threat to male identity would increase the likelihood of gender harassment. In both experiments, using the computer harassment paradigm, male university students (N=80 in Experiment 1, N=90 in Experiment 2) were exposed to different types of identity threat (legitimacy threat and threat to group value in Experiment 1 and distinctiveness threat and prototypicality threat in Experiment 2) or to no threat and were then given the opportunity to send pornographic material to a virtual female interaction partner. Results show that (a) participants harassed the female interaction partner more when they were exposed to a legitimacy, distinctiveness, or prototypicality threat than to no threat; (b) this was mainly true for highly identified males; and (c) harassment enhanced postexperimental gender identification. Results are interpreted as supporting a social identity account of gender harassment.

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Accession: 050296965

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PMID: 14599249

DOI: 10.1037/0022-3514.85.5.853

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