Gender policing: Harassment judgments when men target other men

Richard L. Wiener, Sidney Bennett, Carrie Cheloha, Nolt Nicholson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


This research treated the self-referencing theory, which explains judgments that perceivers make about sexual harassment complaints as a specific case of the general person-environment fit model. The research examined the effects of workplace gender distribution (situation variable) and gender of the judge (person variable) on the manner in which people determine whether male-to-male misconduct constitutes harassment. We presented the fact pattern from a litigated case to 53 female and 53 male people working in a Midwest community and varied whether the workforce was male dominated (90% men) or nearly balanced (55% men). Results showed that men exposed to a male worker who complained about another man's behavior in a male-dominated workplace used themselves as reference points and found less evidence of harassment than did those exposed to the same conduct in a balanced workplace. While women workers also showed evidence of self-referencing, the gender balance in the workplace did not influence their judgments. The results of the study show how self-referencing models can expand person-fit approaches to include explanations of harassment judgments and the need to examine systematically the role of perspective taking in the perception of sexual harassment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)245-267
Number of pages23
JournalPsychology, Public Policy, and Law
Issue number2
StatePublished - May 2012


  • Gender distribution
  • Gender policing
  • Intragender
  • Men
  • Person-environment fit model
  • Sexual harassment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Law

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