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IACM 2023

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Unintended Consequences of Workplace Sexual Regulation: Reduced Cross-Sex Benevolence

Five studies examined whether strict organizational stances on sexual allegations undermine motivations to form cooperative and sexual relationships with opposite-sex individuals. Study 1 employees who perceived their organizations as especially intolerant of sexual allegations (but not sexism) less often engaged in at-home partnered sexual behavior. Study 2 participants more strongly preferred same-sex colleagues when workplace sexuality was discouraged. In Study 3, strict organizational intolerance (versus leniency) towards a sexual allegation increased disapproval of a female accuser relative to the accused man. These changes corresponded to reduced sexual desire and heightened male interest in sex robots. In Study 4, priming hostility towards opposite-sex individuals increased romantic relationship aversion. Among Study 5 participants, organizational intolerance towards a sexual (versus nonsexual) accusation reduced benevolence towards opposite-sex individuals and donations to charities preventing their suicides. Findings suggest strict policies regulating workplace sexuality may carry unintended consequences: fueling cross-sex conflict and corroding cross-sex empathy.

Tania Reynolds
The University of New Mexico Psychology Department
United States

Karl Aquino
UBC Sauder School of Business

Simon Restubog
University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign School of Employment Relations
United States


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