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Article - On Campus Only

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Policy-makers, courts, employers, and individuals must understand perceptual differences among individuals when managing workplace behaviors. Offensive acts that lead to employee disempowerment require particular attention as these behaviors are related to several negative organizational consequences. Women tend to be more sensitive to offensive behavior, but it is unknown whether gender or other factors explain this higher sensitivity. In this study, sensitivity to disempowering acts was assessed by measuring perceived offensiveness reported by male and female observers of videotaped segments of highly confrontive verbal exchanges. Competing hypotheses tested gender and identification with the target of disempowering acts as the underlying reason for women's higher sensitivity. Findings indicated that women reported higher perceived offensiveness regardless of the gender of the target of disempowerment.