March 11, 2015
- William Breland, Ph.D., Department of Psychology
- Dornsife: Psychology
Research Gateway Project
- Deconstructing Public Harassment: Determining Anonymity as a Predictor of Likelihood to Street Harass
Street harassment is prevalent in all countries and cultures. People who encounter unwanted sexual attention while in the public sphere experience shakiness, sweating, chest pains, sleep disturbance and emotional responses such as rage, depression, guilt, disconnection, hyperawareness, and feeling violated. Despite the high prevalence, very little is known about what causes street harassment. This study examines to what extent anonymity predicts likelihood to street harass. It was hypothesized that street harassment would be more prevalent in high-anonymity conditions than in low-anonymity conditions. Surveys were distributed containing 20 vignettes. Participants rated how anonymous they felt in the social situations described. The 3 most anonymous and the 3 least anonymous were selected and used for the next study. In the second study, respondents rated how likely they were to harass in three high-anonymity conditions and three low-anonymity conditions. Most participants were unlikely to harass in any condition. Contrary to the hypothesis, participants who did harass were as likely to do so in high and low-anonymity situations. Anonymity seems to not predict likelihood to street harass.