Gender differences in sexual harassment and coercion in college students: Developmental, individual, and situational determinants

Differences in male (N=143) and female (N=278) college students' use of sexually harassing and coercive behaviors were investigated. Men were twice as likely to be sexually harassing and 3 times more likely to be sexually coercive as women. Among men, sexual harassment was predicted by child sexual abuse, hostility, adversarial heterosexual beliefs, and alcohol expectancy, with the later mediating the effects of aggression. Sexual coercion was predicted by adult sexual victimization and alcohol expectancy, with alcohol expectancy again mediating the effect of aggression. Among women, sexual harassment was predicted by adult sexual victimization, adversarial heterosexual beliefs, aggression, and alcohol expectancy, with aggression mediating the effect of adversarial heterosexual beliefs and alcohol expectancy mediating the effect of aggression. Sexual coercion was predicted by a hostile personality, which mediated the effects of both child and adults sexual victimization. These findings suggest both gender similarities and differences in determinants of sexual aggression.
Menard,Kim S.
Hall,Gordon C.N.
Phung,Amber H.
Ghebrial,Marian F.E.
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Journal of Interpersonal Violence
The focus of this study was to learn more about possible gender differences in sexual coercion and harassment behaviors by examining predictors of these behaviors. The researchers hypothesized that developmental, individual, and situational determinants will have additive effects on sexually harassing and coercive behaviors. Additionally, individual differences will mediate the relationship between developmental factors (i.e., child and adult sexual victimization) and sexual harassment and coercion. Lastly, alcohol expectancies are expected to affect sexual aggression. College students were recruited for this study, with 148 males and 278 female students participating. They were assigned to groups varying in size and were instructed to complete questionnaires pertaining to their sexual attitudes and experiences. These questionnaires included measures concerning child and adult sexual abuse, personality traits, and alcohol expectancies as well as nonsexually aggressive, sexually harassing, and coercive behaviors. As was predicted, men scored higher on both the sexual harassment and sexual coercion scales while women had significantly higher scores on the adult victimization scales. Furthermore, a significant correlation between sexual harassment and child sexual abuse was found for the men, in contrast to the women. There were no significant gender differences on the child sex abuse or the alcohol expectancies scales. In conclusion, findings support the first hypothesis that developmental factors, individual traits, and alcohol expectancies predicted men's and women's sexually harassing and coercive behavior. Nonetheless, analyses pertaining to the mediating role of individual differences yielded mixed results. Suggestions for future research are presented.
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Alcohol, Harassment, Male-Female Relations
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