Do I Say or Let it Go? Emotions Predict How People Respond to Receiving Sexual Objectification at Work

Lee Shepherd*, Olivia Mouter, Vicki Elsey, Brian Lovell

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)
61 Downloads (Pure)

Abstract

Many people are reluctant to report sexual objectification at work. We tested whether emotions determine how people respond to sexual objectification at work. In Study 1 (N = 159) women recalled a time that they had experienced sexual objectification at work. Participants then rated their emotions in this situation and how they responded. Anger positively and a shame-based emotion (rejection) negatively predicted taking action against the perpetrator (active response). In contrast, shame positively predicted women blaming themselves (self-blame). Moreover, pride positively and anger negatively predicted women viewing the action positively (e.g., as flattering, benign response). In Study 2 (N = 135) women imagined themselves receiving either a highly objectifying or ambiguous comment at work. Being objectified increased negative emotions and decreased pride. Moral outrage (i.e., anger and disgust) positively whilst shame-based emotions negatively predicted active responding. Shame-based emotions positively predicted self-blame, whilst pride positively and anger negatively predicted benign responding. Therefore, emotions determine how people respond to sexual objectification at work. Promoting moral outrage and reducing other emotions (e.g., shame, fear, and pride) may make women a) more willing to report sexual objectification at work and b) less likely to blame themselves or view such actions positively (i.e., benign responses).
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)348-366
Number of pages19
JournalSex Roles: A Journal of Research
Volume88
Issue number7-8
Early online date29 Mar 2023
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2023

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