Event Title

Perceptions of Sexual Harassment in Ambiguous Social Media Posts and Comments

Poster Number

011

Session Title

Influence of Social Media

Document Type

Poster Presentation

Faculty Mentor

Tara J. Collins, Ph.D.

College

College of Arts and Sciences

Department

Department of Psychology

Description

Research has been done over the past few decades to learn more about sexual harassment and the ways in which it impacts its victims. Researchers tell us that sexual harassment consists of sexual attention that is written, spoken, or any sexual action that is unwanted by the victim. While there is information like this, researchers tell us there has been little research on sexual harassment in terms of the digital world. The present study aimed to explain some of these interactions on social media. Manipulated pictures were used to represent Instagram posts to figure out how participants interpreted sexual harassment online. It was predicted that if photo captions were soliciting of sexual behaviors, they would not be interpreted as sexually harassing. This was not supported, as the participants viewed the comments that were sexual as inappropriate regardless of the caption type. Participants were also asked to record their frequency in receiving and participating in online sexual harassment, as well as their emotional responses. Here it was predicted that women would receive sexual harassment more than men but participate less. This hypothesis was not supported, but the data set for men was too small for a viable test. The significant results, that the participants viewed sexual comments as negative and inappropriate, gave some insight into how sexual harassment online is interpreted and accepted, but more research needs to be done for a more thorough understanding.

Previously Presented/Performed?

Southeastern Psychological Association (SEPA) Annual Meeting, New Orleans, Louisiana, April 2020; Sixth Annual Showcase of Undergraduate Research and Creative Endeavors (SOURCE), Winthrop University, April 2020

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Apr 24th, 12:00 AM

Perceptions of Sexual Harassment in Ambiguous Social Media Posts and Comments

Research has been done over the past few decades to learn more about sexual harassment and the ways in which it impacts its victims. Researchers tell us that sexual harassment consists of sexual attention that is written, spoken, or any sexual action that is unwanted by the victim. While there is information like this, researchers tell us there has been little research on sexual harassment in terms of the digital world. The present study aimed to explain some of these interactions on social media. Manipulated pictures were used to represent Instagram posts to figure out how participants interpreted sexual harassment online. It was predicted that if photo captions were soliciting of sexual behaviors, they would not be interpreted as sexually harassing. This was not supported, as the participants viewed the comments that were sexual as inappropriate regardless of the caption type. Participants were also asked to record their frequency in receiving and participating in online sexual harassment, as well as their emotional responses. Here it was predicted that women would receive sexual harassment more than men but participate less. This hypothesis was not supported, but the data set for men was too small for a viable test. The significant results, that the participants viewed sexual comments as negative and inappropriate, gave some insight into how sexual harassment online is interpreted and accepted, but more research needs to be done for a more thorough understanding.