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Motivations behind catcalling: Exploring men’s engagement in street harassment behaviour

2 April 2021

Publication Date
02 April 2021

Original Abstract

‘Catcalling’ is a common form of street harassment, often described as sexual harassment from a stranger in a public place. In most cases, it involves a man intruding on a woman’s attention using words, whistles, sounds, or gestures, which essentially define the woman as a sexual object. The purpose of the present study was to explore men’s motivations for catcalling and to investigate the characteristics of men who catcall relative to those who do not. Male participants (N = 258) completed online survey measures of sexism, masculinity/femininity, social dominance, and attitudes towards sexual harassment. We also included a measure exploring motivations for catcalling and reactions that catcallers hope to elicit in their targets. The most frequently reported motivations for catcalling were to flirt with and to express sexual interest in the target, and the most desired reaction from recipients was friendliness. Further, men who reported having engaged in catcalling demonstrated higher levels of hostile sexism, self-ascribed masculinity, social dominance orientation, and tolerance of sexual harassment.


Walton, K. A. & Pedersen, C.L. (2021). Motivations behind catcalling: exploring men’s engagement in street harassment behaviour. Psychology & Sexuality. https://doi.org/10.1080/19419899.2021.1909648

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sexual harassment, street harassment, stranger harassment, catcalling


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