Stranger Danger: The Role of Perpetrator and Context in Moderating Reactions to Sexual Harassment

Megan K. McCarty, Nicole E. Iannone, Janice R. Kelly

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


The majority of research on sexual harassment focuses on achievement contexts where the perpetrator of the harassment is known to the victim. More recent work has begun to explore sexual harassment perpetrated by strangers in public places. The current work sought to bridge the gap between research on sexual harassment in achievement contexts and stranger harassment. In doing so, the current work manipulated factors related to three important distinctions between these topics: the relationship between the perpetrator and victim, the location, and the type of sexually harassing behavior. The current study provides evidence that stranger harassment elicits more negative reactions than harassment from a coworker. Additionally, harasser type interacted with harassment type, with situations involving strangers making physical contact eliciting the most negative reactions. Thus, the current work suggests a need for more research on stranger harassment, as well as on additional factors that may operate differently depending on harasser type.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)739-758
Number of pages20
JournalSexuality and Culture
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 2014

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Gender Studies
  • Cultural Studies


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