White, Shonagh

Start date:
October 2020
Research Topic:
Sex Differences and Sexual Harassment
Research pathway:
Research Supervisor:
Dr Andrew Thomas Prof Jason Davies
Supervising school:
Department of Psychology,
Primary funding source:
ESRC Studentship

An application of an evolutionary psychological theory of risk-taking to better understand sexual harassment (SH). Error management theory (EMT; Haselton & Buss, 2000), which seeks to explain why some decisions are biased towards one outcome and away from others, will be used to develop novel interventions aimed at reducing SH attitudes and behaviours. We will develop methods for identifying individuals more likely to engage in SH and pilot an EMT based intervention aimed at influencing SH-related attitudes and therefore inclination towards such behaviours.
The primary research goal is to examine the individual and combined effect of three approaches on the attitudes which may facilitate SH: (1) raising awareness of sexual overestimation effects (SOEs); (2) enhancing perceived risks of engaging in SH; and (3) reducing perceived benefits of harassment behaviours towards someone who has actual sexual interest. Changing perceptions may be achieved via a “boost” method, whereby education on a subject is given in conjunction with procedural knowledge (e.g. self-regulatory strategies) to fill the “intention-behaviour gap”, enabling individuals to consistently make better choices under their own agency (Hertwig, 2017). Certain populations may respond better to or require differing content or mediums (e.g. due to age or cultural differences), thus this research will also endeavour to determine optimal content and delivery approach across various populations and environments.