Boulder, CO- Because sexual harassment is prevalent in the workplace and on college campuses, experts in the field are constantly trying to determine who is likely to harass another and why. This is a complex issue in which many factors can play a role, but experts agree that sexual harassment is more to do with power than it is about sex and it has negative effects on the victims. While it would be very difficult to give a definitive profile of whom is prone to sexually harass a coworker or peer student a past study shows that those who blame the victim are more likely to be harassers themselves.

The study conducted by researchers at the University of Tennessee, Martin in 2011, found that certain workplace environments can lead to sexual harassment.

“There are some toxic work environments where males dominate, and there is a culture that lets them engage in this action and then get away with it,” Colin Key, a psychology professor at the University of Tennessee, Martin explained to LiveScience. “Hopefully, this just adds to the knowledge that we need to target the whole system sometimes and not just these men.”

The results of this study confirm previous studies that show men who have traditional views of gender roles are more likely to blame the victim for sexual harassment rather than the harasser, referred to as victim-blaming. Men may blame the victim because of the way they dress or the way in which they conduct themselves in the workplace.

In his study, Key wanted to determine why sexual harassment happens and why so many people are willing to excuse this type of inappropriate behavior. He wanted to test the theory that those who blame the victim are inclined to be harassers themselves by asking 118 men between the ages of 18 and 28 about their attitudes towards harassment.

The study participants were asked whether they believed that women used their sexuality to their advantage and whether they believed women were flattered by sexual attention. They were also given eight fictional scenarios of sexual harassment and asked who they identified with and who was to blame.

Key found that the men who most identified with the fictional harassers were also more likely to blame the victim. He said their attitude was, “I might do that kind of thing and I don’t want to get in trouble,” according to Live Science.

Sexual harassment is so common in workplaces and college campuses that researchers are constantly seeking to figure out why it occurs in the hope to curtail the problem. While it answering who and why may not stop sexual harassment altogether, it can give women knowledge and skills to tackle the problem when they encounter it.

Men and women who are sexually harassed have a number of avenues available to them to stop harassment, but they are not always effective. When they have taken steps through their employer or college administrators to no avail, their next best option is to retain a sexual harassment attorney and file a civil suit.