Physical attractiveness influences the interpretation of harassment

Scientific evidence platform Scientific evidence Physical attractiveness influences the interpretation of harassment


  • Agthe, M., Spörrle, M., & Maner, J. K. (2011). Does being attractive always help? Positive and negative effects of attractiveness on social decision making. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 37, 1042–1054. doi:10.1177/0146167211410355
  • Eagly, A. H., Ashmore, R. D., Makhijani, M. G., & Longo, L. C. (1991). What is beautiful is good, but…: A meta-analytic review of research on the physical attractiveness stereotype. Psychological Bulletin, 110, 109–128. doi:10.1037/0033- 2909.110.1.109
  • Golden, J. H., Johnson, C. A., & Lopez, R. A. (2002). Sexual harassment in the workplace: Exploring the effects of attractiveness on the perception of harassment. Sex Roles, 45, 767–784. doi:10.1023/A:1015688303023
  • Herrera, A., Herrera, M. C., and Expósito, F. (2016). Is the beautiful always so good? Influence of physical attractiveness on the social perception of sexual harassment / ¿Es lo bello siempre tan bueno? Influencia del atractivo físico en la percepción social del acoso sexual. Soc. Psychol. Educ. 31, 224–253. doi:10.1080/02134748.2016.1143179.
  • Cleveland, J. N., & Kerst, M. E. (1993). Sexual harassment and perceptions of power: An underarticulated relationship. Journal of Vocational Behavior, 42, 49–67. doi:10.1006/ jvbe.1993.1004
  • Popovich, P., Gehaulf, D., Jelton, J., Everton, W., Godinho, R., Mastrangelo, P., & Somers, J. (1996). Physical attractiveness and sexual harassment: Does every picture tell a story, or every story draw a picture? Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 26, 520–542. doi:10.1111/j.1559-1816.1996.tb02729.x



One of the variables most related to the process of social perception is physical attractiveness (Agthe, Spörrle, & Maner, 2011). Thus, society tends to assign positive traits to attractive people (Eagly, Ashmore, Makhijani, & Longo, 1991).

This physical attractiveness also influences the interpretation of harassment, so society does not usually recognize behaviour as sexual harassment when it comes from an attractive physical person (Golden, Johnson and Lopez, 2002).

Participants in the study conducted by Herrera et al. (2016) tended to think that when a physically attractive harass to demonstrate their power (Cleveland & Kerst, 1993). However, when the aggressor is not physically attractive, he is held accountable to a greater extent. Thus there is a social tendency that bullying is reduced when the victim is attractive, and the bully is unattractive (Popovich et al., 1996). This perception is part of the harassment myths related to sexual harassment and physical attractiveness.


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En mi opinión basada en mi experiencia e información recopilada en artículos de psicología, opino que el atractivo del agresor como el de la víctima influye enormemente en la percepción de la existencia de agresión o no agresión pudiendo tomar diversas direcciones en la interpretación. Se formaría un cuadro en el que se producirían ocho tipo de relaciones diferentes.

  • AutoPercepción del atractivo del agresor alta y AutoPercepción del atractivo de la víctima alta respondería a una percepción de la agresión sexual por parte de la víctima Alta al igual que el agresor.
  • AutoPercepcion del atractivo del agresor baja y AutoPercepcion del atractivo de la víctima baja conformaría una percepción de la agresión sexual por parte del agresor Baja y una percepción de la agresión por parte de la víctima alta.
  • AutoPercepcion del atractivo del agresor alta y AutoPercepcion del atractivo de la víctima Baja tendría lugar a una percepción de la agresión por parte del agresor baja y una percepción de haber sido agredida por parte de la víctima baja.
  • AutoPercepcion del atractivo del agresor baja y AutoPercepcion del atractivo de la persona agredida alta daría lugar a una percepción de agresión alta por ambas partes.

Las variables que se analizan me parecen de vital importancia para poder estudiar el impacto de las agresiones sexuales y sus consecuencias.

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