Journal of Adult Development

, Volume 17, Issue 1, pp 1–11

Sexual Experience and Couple Formation Attitudes Among Emerging Adults


    • School of Family LifeBrigham Young University
  • Jason S. Carroll
    • School of Family LifeBrigham Young University

DOI: 10.1007/s10804-009-9073-z

Cite this article as:
Willoughby, B.J. & Carroll, J.S. J Adult Dev (2010) 17: 1. doi:10.1007/s10804-009-9073-z


In this study, we explore the relationship between attitudes toward both marriage and cohabitation and sexual experience during emerging adulthood. Results from 990 emerging adults indicated only moderate evidence that marital attitudes are related to sexual experience but strong evidence of a relationship between attitudes toward cohabitation and sexual experience. In particular, sexually active emerging adults were more likely to have positive attitudes toward cohabitation. Furthermore, it was found that both religiosity and dating status moderate the relationship between couple formation attitudes and sexual experience. For highly religious emerging adults, sexual activity was associated with higher endorsement of cohabitation; however, this pattern was not present for emerging adults with low religiosity. Dating status was found to have some impact on the relationship between sexual behavior and attitudes toward marriage but did not greatly impact the overall pattern of relationships.


Sexual behaviorAttitudesCohabitationMarriageReligion

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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2009