Local social norms and military sexual stressors: Do senior officers' norms matter?

Maureen Murdoch, John Barron Pryor, Melissa Anderson Polusny, Gary D. Gackstetter, Diane Cowper Ripley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Objective: To examine the relative importance of harassment-tolerant norms emanating from troops' senior officers, immediate supervisors, and units on troops' sexual stressor experiences and to see whether associations differed by sex. Method: Cross-sectional survey of all 681 willing and confirmed active duty troops enrolled in the VA National Enrollment Database between 1998 and 2002. Findings extended an earlier analysis. Results: After adjusting for other significant correlates, senior officers' perceived tolerance of sexual harassment was not associated with the severity of sexual harassment troops reported (p = 0.64) or with the numbers of sexual Identity challenges they reported (p = 0.11). Harassment-tolerant norms emanating from troops' units and immediate supervisors were associated with reporting more severe sexual harassment and more sexual identity challenges (all p < 0.003). Findings generalized across sex. Conclusions: Senior officers' norms did not appear to affect troops' reports of military sexual stressors, but unit norms and immediate supervisors' norms did.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1100-1104
Number of pages5
JournalMilitary medicine
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 2009


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