09:24, December 21 283 0 abajournal.com

2017-12-21 09:24:04
Researchers identify 3 characteristics of sexual harassers; impunity and power play a role

John Pryor, a psychologist at Illinois State University, has found that three factors are characteristic of harassers, the Washington Post reports. They lack empathy, they believe in traditional gender roles, and they have a tendency toward dominance and authoritarianism.

But the social environment has a big impact. “If you take men who score high on the scale and put them in situations where the system suggests they can get away with it, they will do it,” Pryor told the Post. “Impunity plays a large role.”

Positions of power can also lead people to perceive that others are attracted to them, even when it’s not true, according to a 2011 experiment. In the study, 78 pairs of people of the opposite sex were asked to participate in a Lego project. Those who were appointed to be leaders were more likely to perceive sexual interest, even when the Lego partner said there was no such interest.

One of the researchers who ran the 2011 experiment was social psychologist Jonathan Kunstman of Miami University in Ohio.

“Power creates this perfect mental storm for misconduct,” he told the Post. “This tendency to overperceive romantic interest can lead to a feeling of freedom to touch, which can then lead to misconduct.”