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J Appl Psychol. 1999 Jun;84(3):390-402.

Outcomes of self-labeling sexual harassment.

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  • 1Department of Psychology, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, USA.


Research has consistently documented a discrepancy between experiencing offensive sex-related behaviors and labeling these situations as sexual harassment, leading to several attempts to understand this phenomenon. The authors propose that the issue of why it is that women who report such experiences generally do not indicate that they have been sexually harassed is an important psychological question, and may provide a path through the nested meanings of workplace harassment. The authors argue for the value of moving beyond a descriptive approach to this issue by examining the effects of self-labeling on the psychological, health, and work-related outcomes of unwelcome, sex-related experiences. They present data from female employees working in 3 separate organizations, demonstrating that women exposed to such behaviors report very similar consequences, whether they label their experiences as harassment or not.

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