Gender Power and Mate Value: The Evolutionary Psychology of Sexual Harassment
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameMaster of Science
Evolutionary psychological principles were applied to the issue of sexual harassment to investigate whether the gender, power, and mate value of harassers were related to perceptions of sexual harassment. One hundred and sixty heterosexual men and women were given descriptions of a target individual whose mate value and power was manipulated, and three behavioural vignettes involving imagined interactions with the target individual. Participants rated their perceived level of sexual harassment (the dependent variable) stemming from the imagined interactions. Participants also provided ratings of their self perceived level of attractiveness, attitude towards social-sexual communication in the workplace, and experience with social-sexual communication in the workplace. As predicted, females perceived higher levels of sexual harassment than males, and participants perceived higher levels of sexual harassment from low mate-value target individuals than high mate-value target individuals. Against predictions, no result was found for power. Additionally, self perceived level of attractiveness was found to moderate the relationship between gender and perceived sexual harassment, and attitude towards social-sexual communication in the workplace was found to moderate the relationship between mate value and perceived sexual harassment. Implications and explanations are discussed with reference to workplace issues, and evolutionary psychology.