Sexual Harassment in the Armed Forces: A Test of an Integrated Model

Louise F. Fitzgerald, Fritz Drasgow, Vicki J. Magley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Although considerable attention has been paid to the frequency of sexual harassment in the military (e.g., Martindale, 1991), and more recent work has begun to document its antecedents (e.g., Hunter Williams, Fitzgerald, & Drasgow, 1999/this issue) and outcomes (Magley, Waldo, Drasgow, & Fitzgerald, 1999/this issue), little attempt has been made to conceptualize the overall process in an integrated way. In this article, we examine the usefulness of Fitzgerald, Hulin, and Drasgow's (1995) theoretical model of sexual harassment in organizations for describing and explaining the predictors, extent, and outcomes of this problem in the uniformed services. According to the model, organizational tolerance for sexual harassment and the gender context of the workgroup are critical antecedents of harassment, which, in turn, exert a negative influence on work-related variables (e.g., job satisfaction, organizational commitment), psychological states (e.g., anxiety, depression), and physical health. This model was tested, separately for women and men, in a sample of more than 28,000 military personnel who responded to the 1995 Department of Defense survey of gender issues in the military. The results indicate that harassment occurs less frequently in groups whose members perceive that the organization's upper levels will not tolerate such behavior as well as in more gender-balanced workgroups. Harassment was associated with negativejob attitudes, as well as lowered psychological well-being and health satisfaction, even after controlling for effects of job. The study confirms the utility of the model for understanding sexual harassment in the military, thus extending its generalizability beyond the civilian organizational settings in which it was developed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)329-343
Number of pages15
JournalMilitary Psychology
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1999

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • General Psychology


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