People believe sexual harassment and domestic violence are less harmful for women in poverty

Nathan N. Cheek, Bryn Bandt-Law, Stacey Sinclair

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Despite experiencing gender-based violence more frequently and more severely, victims of sexual harassment and domestic abuse from lower socioeconomic status (SES) backgrounds are disproportionately neglected and mistreated. Across four studies (total N = 3052), we show that people incorrectly believe that harassment and abuse are less harmful for women in poverty than for women in affluence. This thick skin bias then leads people to neglect lower-SES victims because they think they are less harmed by gender-based violence: participants thought that lower-SES victims needed less help from bystanders and less interpersonal support from friends and family. The neglect low-SES victims of gender-based violence often encounter may thus arise at least in part from biased beliefs about their lower vulnerability to harm, suggesting that future interventions to reduce class-based disparities in harassment and abuse outcomes may benefit from targeting stereotypes about the “thick-skinned poor.”

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number104472
JournalJournal of Experimental Social Psychology
StatePublished - Jul 2023

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Social Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science


  • Classism
  • Domestic violence
  • Poverty
  • Sexual harassment
  • Thick skin bias


Dive into the research topics of 'People believe sexual harassment and domestic violence are less harmful for women in poverty'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this