Publication Date


Document Type


First Advisor

Milner, Joel S.

Degree Name

M.S. (Master of Science)

Legacy Department

Department of Psychology


Sexual harassment--Psychological aspects; Values


This study created a 30-item Sexual Harassment Belief System Inventory (SHBSI) which was designed to assess the cognitions that support sexually harassing behaviors. Cognitive theories and theories on the etiology of sexually harassing behaviors suggest that certain beliefs are correlated with harassing behaviors in offenders. Further, cognitions have been found to influence the judgements made by nonoffenders as to the seriousness of the offense. To date, extant scales in the field have focused upon two main areas: the' behavioral tendencies of participants in vignette harassment situations or the individual's assessment of the seriousness of various harassment offenses. No study to date has attempted to measure cognitions supportive of sexual harassment. The SHBSI's items were developed through rational methods. A 125-item pool was given to sexual harassment experts to weigh the representativeness of each item for three categories of sexual harassment: Gender Harassment, Unwanted Sexual Attention and Sexual Coercion. The ten items judged most representative of each category were used in the final scale. The scale was administered to Northern Illinois University students, faculty and staff along with three validity scales and three existing sexual harassment*scales. The three validity scales assessed honest self-reporting while the latter three were used to assess convergent validity. The SHBSI showed good intrascale reliability (coefficient a = .93) and temporal stability (r = .79). A confirmatory factor analysis indicated that the data supported a correlated three-factor model representing the three categories (Gender Harassment, Unwanted Sexual Attention and Sexual Coercion) with an 81% fit of the data to the model. Gender served as a reliable predictor of SHBSI scores with males scoring higher than females, indicating males held more sexually harassing supportive beliefs. Study limitations and suggestions for future research are discussed.


Includes bibliographical references (pages [48]-52)


69 pages




Northern Illinois University

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