Date of Award


Publication Type

Doctoral Thesis

Degree Name




First Advisor

Timmons Fritz, Patti


gender, harassment, power, stalking, violence



Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.


Researchers investigating perceptions of stalking have enhanced understanding of the role of gender (i.e., perceived social roles based on sex) on subjective appraisals of harassment behaviour following the dissolution of a romantic relationship. According to data collected from student and community samples, a man harassing a woman (M-W) elicits greater recommendations for police intervention, as well as a tendency to anticipate more harm, than when the same behaviour is perpetrated by a woman against a man (W-M; Cass, 2008; Finnegan & Fritz, 2012; Phillips et al., 2004; Sheridan & Scott, 2010). Although cases of stalking often come to the attention of law enforcement, no research to date to the author’s knowledge has been conducted with police officers. By manipulating a real stalking (i.e., criminal harassment) case, study 1 examined the role of actor sex (M-W, W-M) on perceptions of stalking in a sample of local police officers. Findings were consistent with previous research. Officers who read the M-W case anticipated more physical, emotional, psychological, and economic harm than officers who read the W-M case. Research has also focused almost exclusively on cross-sex stalking. Study 2 extended previous research by examining perceptions of harassment scenarios using four different actor sex permutations (M-W, W-M, M-M, and W-W) in a sample of university students. Male and female participants anticipated less physical and nonphysical harm for W-M compared to M-W, M-M, and W-W harassment. The findings have implications for research on the relation between sex and perceptions of gender, and may be used to develop intervention programs aimed at educating law enforcement, social support workers, and community agencies to ensure appropriate protection and treatment of individuals harassed by same-sex or cross-sex former partners.

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