When is a man perceived as sexually harassing? A team of Arizona psychologists found it depends a lot on how good-looking--and how available--he is.
Conventional wisdom holds that sexual advances from people in positions of power have a coercive edge, and thus are felt as more harassing. But Virgil Sheets, Ph.D., and Sanford Braver, Ph.D., found that it has little to do with a man's position within the organization.
A critical component of a victim's perception of harassment is the undesirability of the sexual advance.
In their 1994 study, Sheets and Braver gave more than 200 college students--80 percent had part-time jobs, and about 30 percent reported encountering sexual harassment in the workplace--a vignette describing a workplace interaction between male and female coworkers in a law firm. The man was described as either a lawyer, research assistant, or courier, and as married or single. Photos of the men, prerated for attractiveness, were included with the story.