Sexual harassment in online communications: effects of gender and discourse medium

Cyberpsychol Behav. 2002 Feb;5(1):33-42. doi: 10.1089/109493102753685863.


Differences in the perception of sexual harassment depending on discourse medium (traditional classroom setting versus online) and gender were examined via survey with 270 undergraduate participants. It was hypothesized that (1) participants would differ in their evaluations of similar behaviors when they were described as occurring in a traditional classroom setting as opposed to an online environment, and (2) males and females would differ in their evaluations of online behaviors. Eight potentially harassing acts were examined--including sexually explicit pictures, content, jokes, misogyny, the use of nicknames, requests for company, sexual favors, and comments about dress. Misogynist comments were seen as more harassing online than in traditional settings, as well as using nicknames and comments about dress. In a traditional setting, only requests for company were seen as more harassing. In terms of gender differences, women rated online pictures and jokes as significantly more harassing than men.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Communication*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Internet*
  • Interpersonal Relations*
  • Male
  • Sexual Harassment*