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Assessing the Gap between Social and Individual Perceptions of Sexual Harassment

Sánchez, Gonzalo E. and Rhodes, Lauren A. and Espinoza, Nereyda E. and Borja, Viviana (2022): Assessing the Gap between Social and Individual Perceptions of Sexual Harassment.

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Abstract

Sexual harassment in and out of the workplace has social and economic implications for both the harassed and those subject to the environment. Understanding the nature of sexual harassment perceptions is an important step in designing effective policies aimed at its elimination. This study estimates the gaps between individual and social perceptions of sexual harassment and examines the role of gender in perception gaps in this context. This is accomplished through a laboratory experiment in order to use an incentivized method to elicit the social norm perceptions for sexual harassment scenarios of different types that could be considered in the “gray area”. We find that a gap between individual and social perceptions occurs when accounting for gender but is not present when gender is not accounted for. This occurs because we find that men and women tend to have opposite perception gaps. Under the assumption that perceived social norms influence behavior, our findings suggest that it could be beneficial to design campaigns that consider the role of gender on perceptions of sexual harassment.

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