The #MeTooLate Effect: Victim blame and trust denial for sexual harassment not immediately reported

Alice Lucarini, Caterina Suitner, Riana Brown, Maureen A. Craig, Eric D. Knowles, Bruno Gabriel Salvador Casara

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Since 2017, the year in which the #MeToo movement burst into the spotlight, many women voiced their experiences with sexual predation. Although many people support the movement, others have questioned the credibility of women who report sexual harassment, particularly if they report their experience a long time after it occurred. The present study tackles two questions. First, is there a difference in people's reactions to harassed women depending on when they report the harassment? Second, can three moderators—political ideology, benevolent sexism, and infrahumanization—partially explain skepticism toward women who report harassment after a long delay? In an experimental study, participants (N = 163) were exposed to four scenarios describing sexual harassment that was either reported immediately or after several years. According to the results, when women reported harassment after several years (vs. immediately), participants engaged in more victim blaming, trusted the victims less, and attributed less guilt to the perpetrators. We also found that right-wing political ideology, benevolent sexism, and infrahumanization exacerbated the effects of a reporting delay on judgments of victims. The present study sheds light on possible barriers to women's reporting of sexual harassment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number110240
JournalPersonality and Individual Differences
StatePublished - Dec 1 2020


  • Benevolent sexism
  • Delayed reporting
  • Infrahumanization
  • Political ideology
  • Secondary emotions
  • Sexual harassment
  • Victim blaming

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Psychology


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