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Title:Explaining the Job-Related and Psychological Consequences of Sexual Harassment in the Workplace: A Contextual Model
Author(s):Swan, Suzanne Catherine
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Fitzgerald, Louise F.
Department / Program:Psychology
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):Women's Studies
Abstract:Sexual harassment in the workplace is a common problem, affecting approximately one in two women (U.S. Merit Systems, 1981, 1988). In addition, evidence of the deleterious effects of sexual harassment on job-related and psychological outcomes is accumulating (Morrow, McElroy, & Phillips, 1994; Schneider, Swan, & Fitzgerald, in press). However, very little research has examined, in any systematic, theoretically sophisticated fashion, the question of how and why sexual harassment affects outcomes. The present study represents an attempt to address this lacuna in the literature by proposing and testing a path model of the relationship between sexual harassment and outcomes. The model was tested via path analyses on 109 female employees of a large Western agribusiness. Results indicated that the intensity of sexual harassment (i.e., degree of threat, overt sexuality, physical touching, etc.) strongly predicted the victim's appraisal of the harassment as stressful, offensive, etc., whereas frequency of harassment had no impact on appraisal. Contrary to expectations, the organizational power of the perpetrator had no effect on appraisal of the harassment. Appraisal of the harassment as more stressful and upsetting led as expected to greater levels of both indirect coping (i.e., avoiding or appeasing the harasser) and direct coping (i.e., telling the harasser to stop or reporting the harassment). High levels of both types of coping affected job satisfaction and psychological health, but in opposite ways. Direct coping predicted greater psychological health and slightly better job satisfaction, whereas indirect coping led to poorer psychological health and job satisfaction. Contrary to the expectation that women who were harassed by a more powerful perpetrator would engage in more indirect coping and less direct coping, perpetrator power led to greater levels of both types of coping. Finally, retaliation predicted less job satisfaction, but had only marginal effects on psychological health and job withdrawal. Regression analyses for variables that could not be included in the path model due to sample size issues revealed that employee's perceptions of the organization's tolerance for sexual harassment predicted the frequency of harassment women experienced, but not harassment intensity. Finally, good social support buffered the negative impact of sexual harassment on psychological health.
Issue Date:1997
Description:97 p.
Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 1997.
Other Identifier(s):(MiAaPQ)AAI9737268
Date Available in IDEALS:2015-09-25
Date Deposited:1997

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