The Effects of Prior Workplace Behavior on Subsequent Sexual Harassment Judgments

Richard L. Wiener, Ryan Winter, Melanie Rogers, Lucy Arnot

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

34 Scopus citations


A dual processing model of sexual harassment judgments predicted that the behavior of a complainant in a prior case would influence evaluations in an unrelated subsequent case. In the first of two experimental scenarios depicting social-sexual conduct at work, the female complainant's conduct was manipulated to be aggressive, submissive, ambiguous, or neutral. Half of the participants were asked to reflect upon the first scenario after reading it and before answering responsibility questions. The other half simply reviewed the scenario and answered the questions. When the complainant acted aggressively, her behavior in the first scenario caused men who reflected on the fact pattern to find less evidence of harassment. Most interestingly, an aggressive complainant observed in the first scenario caused participants (especially women) to rate lower the likelihood that a neutral complainant in a second independent case was the victim of gender discrimination. Across cases, men found less evidence of harassment than did women.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)47-67
Number of pages21
JournalLaw and human behavior
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 2004


  • Harassment judgments
  • Prior behavior

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • General Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Law


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