What causes some men to harass and not others? For more than three decades, John Pryor has searched for an answer. A psychologist at Illinois State University, Pryor in 1987 developed the “Likelihood to Sexually Harass” scale. The test is now a cornerstone for research on sexual harassers.
The test was designed for men, but people of any gender can take this shortened version to see where they rank.
Assume for the four scenarios below that no matter what you choose, nothing bad will happen to you as a result. Your responses will not be recorded. Try to answer as honestly as possible.
Scenario 1 of 4
Imagine you are the news director for a local television station. Because of personnel changes, you have to replace the anchor woman for the evening news.
Your policy has always been to promote reporters from within when there’s a vacancy in the anchor chair. There are several female reporters from whom to choose. All are young, attractive and seem qualified for the job.
One reporter, Loretta W., is someone whom you personally find attractive. You initially hired her, giving her a first break in the broadcast news. How likely are you to do the following in this situation?
a. Would you give Loretta the job?
b. Assuming that you fear no reprisals in your job, would you offer Loretta the job in exchange for sexual favors?
c. Assuming that you fear no reprisals in your job, would you ask her to meet you after work for dinner to discuss the job?
Scenario 2 of 4
Imagine you are a Hollywood film director and you’re casting for a minor role in a film. The role calls for a particularly stunning actress with lots of sex appeal. How likely are you to do the following things in this situation?
a. Would you give the role to the actress whom you personally found sexiest?
b. Would you give the role to an actress who agreed to have sex with you?
c. Would you ask the actress to whom you were most personally attracted to talk with you about the role over dinner?
Scenario 3 of 4
Imagine you’re an executive at a large corporation. You’re 42 years old with an income above average for executives at your level, and you’ve had numerous job offers from other companies.
One day your secretary quits and you have to replace her. The personnel department sends several applicants for you to interview. All seem to be equally qualified.
One applicant, Michelle S., explains during her interview that she desperately needs this job. She’s 23, single and has been job hunting for a month. You find yourself very attracted to her. She looks at you in a way that possibly conveys she is also attracted to you. How likely are you to do the following?
a. Would you give her the job over the other applicants?
b. Assuming that you are secure enough in your job that no possible reprisals could happen to you, would you offer her the job in exchange for sexual favors?
c. Assuming that you fear no reprisals on your job, would you ask her to meet you later for dinner to discuss her possible employment?
Scenario 4 of 4
Imagine you’re the owner of an expensive restaurant. One day, while going over receipts, you find one of the waitresses made an error, undercharging several customers. The mistake costs you $400.
Talking to other employees, you discover the customers involved were friends of the waitress. You call the waitress to your office and ask her to explain. The young waitress confesses she intentionally undercharged her friends. She promises she’ll never do it again and says she would do anything to keep her job.
The waitress is someone you’ve always found particularly attractive. How likely are you to do the following?
a. Would you let her keep her job?
b. Would you let her keep her job in exchange for sexual favors?
c. Would you ask her to meet you for dinner after work to discuss the problem?
Results: You are at risk for sexually harassing someone at work
You’re not likely a sexual predator. You scored on the low end of the “Likelihood to Sexually Harass” scale.
Go talk to HR. You scored in the high range of the “Likelihood to Sexually Harass” scale.
Pryor designed his test so that only the second question from each scenario — the one about coercing sex — counts toward your score.
In anonymous, large-scale studies, Pryor and other researchers have found that high-scoring men share these characteristics: a lack of empathy, a belief in traditional gender sex roles and a tendency toward dominance/authoritarianism.
They also found the environment around such men — permissive or discouraging of sexual harassment — has a huge effect on whether they act on such tendencies.
Chris Alcantara contributed to this report.