Catcalls or Compliments: Men's Attitudes on Street and Sexual Harassment in Relation to Their Personality
Street harassment, also known as public harassment, sexual harassment in the public, and stranger harassment, is defined as physical and verbal unwanted behaviours done by a stranger in the public sphere. Sexual harassment in the workplace is defined as unwanted verbal or physical sexual advances and requests for sexual favours that impact an individual's employment or academic performance and create a hostile or offensive environment. Street harassment stands apart from sexual harassment in the workplace because street harassment is usually done in the public sphere by a stranger. In addition, the general public has normalized street harassment where some men perceive it as positive and complimentary. Yet, sexual harassment is perceived as socially unacceptable and illegal. How can these two types of harassment be seen so differently? Moreover, there is limited knowledge on the impact of personality traits on one's attitudes to street harassment. The current study aimed to investigate the definition of street harassment and create an empirical street harassment measure, which currently does not exist in the literature. Furthermore, the relationship of normal personality traits, measured by the HEXACO personality inventory, and of sub-clinical Dark Triad personality traits to men's attitudes of street harassment and sexual harassment was examined. The pilot studies illustrated that a unique set of street harassment behaviours characterized by perpetrator identity and context could not be created; however, a range of harassing behavioural items was created. The main study revealed that Conscientiousness, Openness, Agreeableness, Machiavellianism and Psychopathy personality traits are significant predictors of men's attitudes on a range of harassing behaviours. The findings of this research give rise to some conceptual questions about the street harassment construct and how to better measure the construct. Furthermore, the study informs the discourse surrounding men's attitudes on a range of harassing behaviours by situating the behaviours within the context of both normal personality and a set of socially malevolent traits. These findings provide a greater understanding of the psychological profile of men at risk for engaging in a range of harassing behaviours.
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