, Volume 35, Issue 5, pp 768-782
Date: 08 Aug 2006

Reciprocal Effects between the Perceived Environment and Heterosexual Intercourse Among Adolescents

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This study proposes a transactional model for the reciprocal relationship between increased likelihood of adolescent sexual intercourse and decreased connection with the perceived environment. Connection with the perceived environment is operationalized as higher problem-focused interactions with parents, lower religious attendance, and lower school belonging. Relationship with the perceived environment is further hypothesized to explain the increase in depressive symptoms associated with initiating sexual intercourse in adolescence. Data from Waves 1 and 2 of the National Longitudinal Survey of Adolescent Health (one year apart; valid N=10,873) were analyzed using survey-adjusted multiple and logistic regression and path analysis. Hypothesized relationships were confirmed, with an additional finding that relationships with the perceived environment do not improve with the cessation of sexual intercourse. Implications of a possible explanation for this, that this finding indicates sexually active youth earn a stigmatized “non-virgin” label that they cannot easily remove, are discussed.

Assistant Professor at the Adelphi University School of Social Work. He received his Ph.D. in 2005 from Cornell University in Human Development and completed a postdoctoral fellowship in the Behavioral Sciences Training in Drug Abuse Research program sponsored by Medical and Health Association of New York City, Inc. (MHRA) and the National Development and Research Institutes (NDRI) with funding from the National Institute on Drug Abuse (5T32 DA07233). His major research interests include psychological and social determinants of adolescent and young adult health and risk behaviors, religion as a context of youth development, positive development of sexuality and avoidance of sexual risk behaviors in youth, and young adults, and sexual minority youths’ issues with religion.