Sexual harassment (SH) occurs when people are targets of unwanted sexual comments, sexual gestures, or sexual actions because of their actual or perceived gender, gender expression, or sexual orientation. Due to its frequency and harmful effects on people and organizations, and because it is often a symptom of social inequalities, SH is of concern to psychologists. Using psychological theory and research as well as intersectional and contextual lenses, this article describes how SH is varied in its forms, targets, and origins. I explore explanations for SH with a focus on sociocultural gender and power perspectives. I also employ a person-by-situation perspective to show how contextual factors interact with individual factors to influence incidence. Because reducing SH is important for safe and inclusive schools, organizations, and public settings, I identify possible solutions to this common social problem. Finally, I discuss how and why teaching about the psychology of SH can promote positive individual, group, organizational, and social change. In sum, I illustrate interesting and important psychological concepts and methods and show how psychology can be used to understand and treat social problems and inequalities.



Included in

Psychology Commons



URL: https://digitalcommons.calpoly.edu/psycd_fac/69