The Impact of Psychological Injuries on Sexual Harassment Determinations Article

Winter, RJ, Vallano, JP. (2012). The Impact of Psychological Injuries on Sexual Harassment Determinations . 5(3-4), 208-220. 10.1007/s12207-012-9135-6

cited authors

  • Winter, RJ; Vallano, JP


  • Although a plethora of studies focus on jury decision making in sexual harassment cases, few studies examine damage award assessments in such suits, and even fewer explore the impact of psychological injury on jurors' liability and damage award assessments. In the present study, 342 undergraduates read a hostile environment sexual harassment case that manipulated the plaintiff's psychological injury level (severe vs. mild vs. control) to investigate whether males and females made different damage decisions. Males using a reasonable person standard found more liability as the severity of the plaintiff's psychological injury increased. However, males using a reasonable woman standard found less liability with the addition of any psychological injury information. Similarly, for mild and severe injuries, males using the reasonable woman standard awarded lower damages than males using the reasonable person standard. Females tended to find more harassment than males, but psychological injury and legal standard had little impact on females' legal decisions. We discuss these findings in light of the positive relationship often observed between the plaintiff's injury severity level and pro-plaintiff verdicts. © 2012 Springer Science+Business Media New York.

publication date

  • January 1, 2012

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

start page

  • 208

end page

  • 220


  • 5


  • 3-4