The stories of sexual assault and harassment that emerged last year seemed to touch every industry — Hollywood, hotels, restaurants, politics and news organizations, including this one. Many of those stories focused on what happened, but most didn’t or couldn’t get to the question of why: Why do some people, mainly men, sexually harass their colleagues?
Psychologist John Pryor has been thinking about this for more than three decades, and he has created a test in an effort to measure a person’s tendency to harass someone. It’s called the “Likelihood to Sexually Harass Scale.”
Pryor, who is a professor at Illinois State University, created the scale in the 1980s, a time when many researchers were looking at rape.
“There was a scale that was developed then to measure the likelihood that people would rape if they thought they could get away with it,” he says. “So that inspired me to think about sexual harassment.”
Pryor spoke with NPR’s Michel Martin about his research and his thoughts on the national conversation about harassment and the #MeToo movement.
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