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I really do not know how to write a thank you that is so important yet can only be expressed in words. There is no way I could possibly reflect my gratitude to all those who helped and supported me through one of the most significant experiences I have ever gone through. But without certain individuals in my life, I never would have accomplished this research, and felt as proud and exhilarated as I do.
The professors in the Psychology department are the most
encouraging and intelligent team I have ever seen. The unending patience,
constant support, and expertise throughout this whole semester was truly
remarkable. I know it must be as trying for them to deal with us, as it
is for us to finish our thesis. A special thanks to Professor Finn who
always made me smile even when I was near tears ... why don't you take
your coat off and stay a while?! And to Professor Ossoff, my life-saver
when I really thought I might die, thank you for being so understanding
and helpful. Your time and effort throughout the four years I have known
you has been overwhelming. Thank you. Thanks and congratulations to those
in my Experimental 11 class. It was really fun getting to know people I
had not known before, and working together to accomplish this research
project. And thanks Barbara, you are the constant supporter to all seniors.
Thanks to all my friends who could not have been more understanding throughout my constant whining, crying and yelling in frustration. A special thanks and again, congratulations to my two roommates who accomplished their English senior theses as well. You girls are the best and I will never forget the laughs. And without a very talented actor and actress, as well as two wonderful friends of mine, I would not have been able to complete this project. Thank you Rich Hynes and Sarah O'Connor, I think the video is a great start to a movie career!
Lastly, and the most difficult to express, is my unconditional love and thanks to my family. Without my parents I would not even be here, and my semester abroad in Italy would not have happened, which is where this whole thesis topic was conceived. I feel so lucky and privileged to have parents like you, words could not do justice. My brother and sister are my two best friends and without them I would not be the person I am today. I love all of you, and Mogul, for everything you have given me and taught me, but most of all for supporting me in everything I do. Each one of you has influenced me in a way I could never imagine. You are so special. Thanks and I love you.
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The present study examined the differences between American and non American cultures interpreting possible sexual harassment situations. Research has shown that differences do exist between the perceptions of sexual harassment in the United States compared to those from another culture. Research has also shown that gender differences are present when examining the interpretations of sexual harassment situations. It was hypothesized that because different societies place dissimilar values on the female population, interpretation of sexual harassment may differ from culture to culture, with America having become more sensitized to such behavior. It was also hypothesized that a gender difference would be evident in the interpretation of these situations. Methods for determining cross-cultural attitudes towards women were by a series of scales. Th~e~ three measurements used were the Ambivalent Sexism Scale, the Attitudes Towards Women Scale, and the Modern Sexism Scale. There was also a video depicting four possible sexual harassment scenes in which subjects had to answer a questionnaire evaluating their interpretation. There were no overall cross-cultural differences on thescales assessing attitudes towards women. Males, however, generally scored higher on the attitudes towards women measure, indicating more sexist beliefs. Women reported more equalitarian attitudes throughout the scales. Analysis of the answers on which the questionnaire assessing one's interpretation of a possible sexual harassment situation suggested that international women may be desensitized toward any inappropriate men. Scores revealed that males in both the American and non-American group were more critical than females in their perception of sexual harassment situations. This finding may be explained by American males heightened awareness of sexual harassment concerns. Future research suggestions are made.
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The act of misperceiving in situations such as sexual harassment is unfortunately not an unusual finding, especially in the case of men misperceiving womens behaviors. But this is not the only factor to be explored in the area of perceptions and sexual harassment. There is also a cross-cultural effect to be examined. Interpersonal relationships vary around the world, and because of this diversity, interpretations of social encounters vary as well. The sexual harassment issues that promote a little more controversy are those occurring in everyday living. There appear to be more defined standards pertaining to sexual harassment in the workplace, but when the situation exceeds the office, ambiguities are evident. These ambiguities are interpreted differently depending on what standards one's culture, adhere t). The differences among cultures in perceptions of sex harassment situations and attitude towards women in general is the object of this study. The differences in male and female perceptions and attitudes will be examined as well.
Studies have also shown that males have a higher tendency to harass than females. Research conducted by Kulik, Perry, and Schmidtke (1998) revealed that men score higher than women on the Likelihood to Sexually Harass Scale (LSH); an instrument developed by psychologist John B. Pryor (1987). The LSH is used to measure men's propensity to commit the most severe forms of sexual harassment and sexual exploitation. Sexual impropriety involves the use of power to evoke sex usually by threats of punishment or promise of reward (Kulik, Perry, Schmidtke, 1998). This is an example of quid pro quo. Gender differences related to this have been detected in a number of studies.
In a study by Stockdale (1993) it was found that tendencies to perceptually distort friendly behavior may be due to both an attitudinal and a belief system that justifies sexual harassment. She found that women will perceive other women's behavior more precisely than men do. Stockdale also indicates that misperceiving sexual encounters may be linked to traditional sex-role attitudes, an acceptance for sexually harassing activities, and nonacceptance of liberal views about sexual harassment (Stockdale, 1993).
Katz, Hannon, and Whitten (1996) also examined gender differences and sexual harassment issues. This study showed that men and women rated harassment conditions the same; meaning the scores on the tests assessing feelings on sexual harassment situations did not vary significantly among males and females. These results were only evident provided the male was harassing and the female was the victim. When it was the female harassing the male, men gave much lower ratings than the women; meaning the scores revealed that the subject felt the description in which to evaluate was 'definately not sexual harassment.' This finding indicated that men felt the women's behavior was just being friendly, not offensive, whereas women found the same description to be offensive behavior. The outcome of this study suggested that men base their perceptually distort friendly behavior may be due to both an attitudinal and a belief system that justifies sexual harassment. She found that women will perceive other women's behavior more precisely than men do. Stockdale also indicates that misperceiving sexual encounters may be linked to traditional sex-role attitudes, an acceptance for sexually harassing activities, and nonacceptance of liberal views about sexual harassment (Stockdale, 1993).
Gender differences are definitely an important aspect of examining the problem of sexual harassment. But there are not only gender differences to study in this area, there are cultural differences as well.
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