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Good Intentions Aren't Good Enough: Moral Courage in Opposing Sexual Harassment
Keywords: moral courage, intentions, sexual harassment, pseudo-triadic interaction
Abstract: People may intend to call out or report sexual harassment, but fail to do so when actually encountering it. We examine the differences between such intentions and behaviors and the role of moral courage in opposing sexual harassment. In a preregistered study, we first asked participants to assess their intentions to take action against the sexual harassment and then compared those intentions to their actual behaviors when a male group member sexually harassed a female group member in an online interaction. We found that, as predicted, participants were more likely to intend to report sexual harassment than actually report sexual harassment. Exploratory analyses indicated that agreeableness and fairness moral concerns positively predicted observers’ sexual harassment reporting behaviors, while narcissism and moral concerns about loyalty were negatively related with such behaviors. Our results provide insights into the morally courageous processes involved in observers’ direct intervention and reporting of sexual harassment.