Dr. Kristina Diekmann is the Daniels Professor of Business Ethics and a Professor of Management at the David Eccles School of Business. She recently finished co-authoring a paper, “Double-Victimization in the Workplace: Why Observers Condemn Victims of Sexual Harassment”, illustrating how “passive” victims of sexual harassment in the workplace are often unfairly condemned by coworkers.

Diekmann has an interest in people’s subconscious forecasting errors. She says, “Everyone believes they’ll take action against offensive behavior, but they might in fact do the same thing as a person they deem passive.” An example of this erroneous thinking is how people envision they’d react if they were the ones being harassed. When they look at a hypothetical scenario, most people believe they would report the harassment, leave the room, or speak up. The errors take place “because when we forecast what we will do, we think about it abstractly rather than in the moment with the details and specifics.”

In the recent research, Dr. Diekmann and co-authors look at how these forecasting errors cause a passive victim of sexual harassment to be condemned by co-workers. Findings of the research show that when a person is harassed and does not take action to stop the harassment (the typical response), co-workers are less likely to want to work with him or her or recommend that person for a job.