The effect of perspective taking on reactions towards perpetrators and victims of sexual harassment

Chloe Langbroek (2011). The effect of perspective taking on reactions towards perpetrators and victims of sexual harassment Honours Thesis, School of Psychology, The University of Queensland.

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Author Chloe Langbroek
Thesis Title The effect of perspective taking on reactions towards perpetrators and victims of sexual harassment
School, Centre or Institute School of Psychology
Institution The University of Queensland
Publication date 2011-10-12
Thesis type Honours Thesis
Supervisor Dr Renata Bongiorno
Total pages 69
Language eng
Subjects 1701 Psychology
Abstract/Summary A consistent trend that emerges from previous research is that women overwhelmingly tend to be the victims of sexual harassment cases, but very few of them report such incidents or make formal complaints. Previous literature has also shown that men more than women tend to blame the victim, and that this may be behind victims’ low reporting rates. The factors of identification and empathy are believed to be linked to observers’ attitudes towards victims and perpetrators of sexual harassment. The present study investigates whether it is possible to use perspective taking to manipulate the degree to which observers – particularly men – identify and empathise with the victim and perpetrator, thus improving attitudes towards victims. Participants were 183 university students (60 males, 123 females) and were instructed to take either the victim’s or perpetrator’s perspective while reading a brief vignette describing a sexual harassment scenario. Participants then answered questions which measured their attitudes towards both students, in terms of identification, empathy, blame, likeability, believability, perpetrator behaviour normalizing and perceived victim harm. In support of the hypothesis, those who were asked to take the victim’s perspective showed more positive attitudes toward the victim and more negative attitudes toward the perpetrator than those who took the perpetrator’s perspective. Moderated meditational analyses revealed that perspective taking worked to change attributions of blame predominantly through its effect on perpetrator identification and perpetrator empathy, which was a novel finding as identification and empathy with both the perpetrator and victim were predicted to be mediators. This information may be used in universities and the workplace to focus on making the victim’s perspective salient, and changing identification and empathy with the perpetrator in order to increase positive attitudes towards sexual harassment victims. This may, in turn, increase victims’ propensity to report such acts committed against them.
Keyword Perpetrators and victims
Sexual harassment
Perspective taking

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Created: Tue, 19 Jun 2012, 16:12:23 EST by Mrs Ann Lee on behalf of School of Psychology