The Effects of Persuasive Communication on Knowledge and Attitudinal Outcomes of a Sexual Harassment Training Program
Date of Graduation
Doctor of Philosophy in Psychology (PhD)
Second Committee Member
Attitudes Towards Sexual Harassment, Elaboration Likelihood Model, Sexual Harassment
Sexual harassment has been recognized as a prevalent issue leading to multiple negative consequences for victims and perpetrators. Efforts to reduce its occurrence and increase awareness are important. The majority of sexual harassment prevention programs evaluated have used knowledge-enhancing techniques in order to combat sexual harassment; however, results have not yielded a decrease in sexual harassment supportive attitudes. This study examined the effects of a sexual harassment training program that incorporated aspects of the elaboration likelihood model (Petty & Cacioppo, 1986) via manipulation of argument strength and source expertise. A pretest established participants' sexual harassment policy knowledge and attitudes. One hundred and fifty four participants were randomly assigned to view one of four training videos where the strength of the arguments (weak/strong) and source expertise (non-expert/expert) were manipulated. Participants then completed a posttest of sexual harassment policy knowledge and attitudes. Participants also listed arguments against sexual harassment recalled from the training video and indicated their level of motivation to attend to the video, ability to understand the information presented in the video, and their favorable thoughts regarding the video's content. Results suggest that all participants evidenced an increase in knowledge of university sexual harassment policies from pretest to posttest but changes in attitude were not significant. Participants who viewed weak arguments from a non-expert source evidenced greater recall of arguments presented in training videos compared to all other training videos. Women evidenced less supportive attitudes towards sexual harassment and more motivation to attend to and process the information presented in the videos compared to men. This study provided data on the applicability of the elaboration likelihood model to sexual harassment training programs, supporting previous research findings that training can enhance sexual harassment knowledge and immediate recall of information learned. The sexual harassment training program implemented in this study successfully enhanced sexual harassment policy knowledge in men and women, using experts and non-expert sources, conveying general and detailed information on the policies. However, the training program was not successful at changing participants' attitudes towards sexual harassment. Interpretations and implications of the results, as well as future directions and limitations, are discussed.
Anton, C. M. (2014). The Effects of Persuasive Communication on Knowledge and Attitudinal Outcomes of a Sexual Harassment Training Program. Graduate Theses and Dissertations Retrieved from https://scholarworks.uark.edu/etd/2201