The Relationship Between Assertiveness and Individual Response to Sexual Harassment in the Workplace

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Tran, Ivory
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Middle Tennessee State University
Sexual harassment in the workplace is a pressing issue for both employees and employers. There have been studies that examine individual factors that influence how targets of sexual harassment react to the harassment incident. The present study seeks to contribute to the literature by exploring the effects of assertiveness on individuals’ responses to sexual harassment in the workplace, a topic that has not received significant research attention so far. Specifically, this study examines whether two forms of assertiveness (i.e., adaptive and aggressive assertiveness) predict how individuals respond to sexual harassment in the workplace (i.e., passive, avoidance, or active response). Data were collected from 213 participants, consisting of students, faculty, and staff at a large, public, southern university via an online survey. Four demographic variables (i.e., gender, ethnicity, age, and primary affiliation with the university) were used as covariates in the analysis. Using multinomial logistic regression analysis, adaptive and aggressive assertiveness were not found to be statistically significant predictors of sexual harassment response category. The overall prediction accuracy was 48.3%, with correct prediction rates of 38.6%, 0%, and 79.8% for passive, avoidance, and active response, respectively. Implications of the study findings and suggestions for future research are also discussed.
Assertiveness, Sexual harassment, Workplace harassment, Behavioral sciences