Date of Award

6-27-2011

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Psychology (PsyD)

Department

Psychology

First Advisor

Maureen C. McHugh, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Anson E. Long, Ph.D.

Third Advisor

Margaret Reardon, Ph.D.

Abstract

On a daily basis, women in public places are the targets of cat calls, crude comments, and all other manner of behaviors which have been labeled street harassment. The current study seeks to add to the sparse data regarding women‘s experiences of street harassment by using an experimental between-groups design to measure the emotional and cognitive effects of witnessing street harassment in a short film clip. While participants in the experimental group watched a film clip of a woman being harassed by men as she walked down the street, participants in the control group watched a film clip showing a neutral street scene. Self-report scales were used to measure the dependent variables of self-objectification, negative and positive affect, and fear of rape. A scale for measuring the frequency of women‘s past experience of street harassment, the Street Harassment Scale, was also developed with the hopes of furthering research in this area. The 28 item scale demonstrated high internal reliability (Alpha = .97). A factor analysis confirmed two factors used to construct the Hostile/Threatening Subscale and Complimentary/Benevolent Subscale with each subscale also showing excellent internal reliability. Results from 79 female college student participants indicated that women reported experiencing high levels of street harassment ranging from minor and seemingly complimentary to severe and frightening. Subjectively complimentary/benign harassment was reported as more common than hostile/threatening. Participants in the experimental group did not report significantly different levels of self-objectification or fear of rape. However, the women who watched the video of street harassment did report significantly higher levels of anger than women who watched a film clip of a neutral street scene. Data also indicated that the more experience women had being harassed in the past, the more negatively they responded to the film of street harassment.

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