Hostility, coercion, sexism among causes of harassment in military

November 01, 1999

CHAMPAIGN, Ill.-- Results of the U.S. military's 1995 survey of sexual harassment in its ranks were frightening -- 78 percent of women reported at least one of nine kinds of incidents. University of Illinois researchers say, however, that although the number is troubling, it is not the whole story.

A series of studies in the current quarterly issue of the journal Military Psychology provide a more comprehensive look at the 1995 Department of Defense survey of more than 28,000 military personnel. The researchers conclude that solutions to the problem require greater gender parity where and when possible, as well as greater intolerance of such behavior on the part of military leadership.

"The staggering fact is the military is not all that different from what we've found in studies of private-sector organizations," said Fritz Drasgow, a professor of psychology and of labor and industrial relations and guest editor of the journal's special issue on sexual harassment. "Basically, what we found is that tolerant attitudes by leaders in an organization are related to increased rates of harassment, and that sexual harassment has real negative effects."

The effects included job dissatisfaction and reduced psychological and physical well being. "Given a certain amount of harassment, men and women suffer the same negative effects, but women are harassed a great deal more than men," he said.

The studies used a sophisticated measure of sexual harassment, focusing strictly on actual behaviors, that was developed by Louise Fitzgerald, a U. of I. professor of psychology and of women's studies. Researchers looked at what led to higher and lower rates of incidents, whether the conditions were the same for men and women, what types of incidents occurred most frequently, what were the consequences, and what should be realistically counted as sexual harassment.

Drasgow and Fitzgerald are working with the Defense Manpower Data Center to revise the survey for use next year by the Defense Department.

"The data reported here cast new light on the nature (as opposed to simply the incidence) of sexual harassment of female military personnel and suggest the wisdom of reframing both policy debates and interventions," wrote Fitzgerald, Drasgow and then-graduate students Vicki J. Magley and Craig R. Waldo in one study. "The results clearly indicate that the problems faced by women in the military have far more to do with hostility than sexual attraction."

One in three women reported getting some kind of unwanted sexual overture, but the analysis found that only 2 percent of these experienced purely sexual attention; the other 98 percent received the attention in combination with sexist hostility, sexual hostility or coercion.
-end-


University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Related Behavior Articles from Brightsurf:

Variety in the migratory behavior of blackcaps
The birds have variable migration strategies.

Fishing for a theory of emergent behavior
Researchers at the University of Tsukuba quantified the collective action of small schools of fish using information theory.

How synaptic changes translate to behavior changes
Learning changes behavior by altering many connections between brain cells in a variety of ways all at the same time, according to a study of sea slugs recently published in JNeurosci.

I won't have what he's having: The brain and socially motivated behavior
Monkeys devalue rewards when they anticipate that another monkey will get them instead.

Unlocking animal behavior through motion
Using physics to study different types of animal motion, such as burrowing worms or flying flocks, can reveal how animals behave in different settings.

AI to help monitor behavior
Algorithms based on artificial intelligence do better at supporting educational and clinical decision-making, according to a new study.

Increasing opportunities for sustainable behavior
To mitigate climate change and safeguard ecosystems, we need to make drastic changes in our consumption and transport behaviors.

Predicting a protein's behavior from its appearance
Researchers at EPFL have developed a new way to predict a protein's interactions with other proteins and biomolecules, and its biochemical activity, merely by observing its surface.

Spirituality affects the behavior of mortgagers
According to Olga Miroshnichenko, a Sc.D in Economics, and a Professor at the Department of Economics and Finance, Tyumen State University, morals affect the thinking of mortgage payers and help them avoid past due payments.

Asking if behavior can be changed on climate crisis
One of the more complex problems facing social psychologists today is whether any intervention can move people to change their behavior about climate change and protecting the environment for the sake of future generations.

Read More: Behavior News and Behavior Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.