Women's representation in social media is becoming increasingly sexualized, even when they are victims of sexual harassment (SH). In the present research, we adopted a bystander approach to investigate the role of victims' sexualization on bystanders' reactions to an episode of SH. In Study 1, female participants read a fictitious newspaper article that described a workplace SH episode: According to condition, the article included a picture of the victim who was wearing either sexualized or nonsexualized clothing. In Study 2, which also included male participants, we used a similar procedure and measured a series of traditional beliefs against women equality. As predicted, participants showed lower willingness to help the sexualized than nonsexualized victim: This effect occurred because they attributed lower morality to the victim and blamed her more for the SH event. Study 2 very well replicated Study 1 results and also showed that higher levels of endorsement of traditional masculine norms further enhanced biased perception of the sexualized (vs. nonsexualized) victim. Together, findings suggest that biased evaluations of workplace SH episodes associated with sexualized victims' appearance, consistent with traditional masculine norms, may have detrimental consequences by increasing legitimization and tolerance toward SH.
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