Sexual Trajectories during Adolescence: Relation to Demographic Characteristics and Sexual Risk
Rent the article at a discountRent now
* Final gross prices may vary according to local VAT.Get Access
The “sexual trajectory” is an age-graded set of various new sexual experiences, defined by three key dimensions: sequence, duration, and timing. A comprehensive description of sexual trajectories creates the possibility to investigate potential risks of certain trajectory types. The present study attempted to answer three questions: (1) Is it possible to identify a typology in (the early stages of) sexual trajectories? (2) Is sexual trajectory type related to demographic characteristics, such as sex, ethnic background, and educational level? (3) What are the associations between sexual trajectory type and recent sexual risk behavior? A representative Dutch sample of 1,263 males and 1,353 females (M = 20.46 years; range, 12–25) who had engaged in sexual intercourse completed a questionnaire about sexual (health) behavior. About three quarters of participants followed a progressive sexual trajectory from less intimate (e.g., kissing) to more intimate behavior (e.g., sexual intercourse). Immigrant groups and less educated youth were more likely to follow a nonlinear trajectory. A progressive trajectory was associated with a higher likelihood of consistent contraceptive use with the most recent partner and, for girls, with a lower likelihood of having unprotected anal intercourse with the last partner. It was hypothesized that the nonlinear trajectory could be ascribed to a lack of opportunities or skills to plan and steer early sexual experiences and that these limitations were fairly stable over time. Sexual education should aim at providing adolescents with sufficient (self) knowledge and skills to construct their sexual trajectories according to their own wishes or needs.
- Baumeister, R. F. (2000). Gender differences in erotic plasticity: The female sex drive as socially flexible and responsive. Psychological Bulletin, 126, 347–374. CrossRef
- Brook, J. S., Balka, E. B., Abernathy, T., & Hamburg, B. A. (1994). Sequence of sexual behavior and its relationship to other problem behaviors in African American and Puerto Rican adolescents. Journal of Genetic Psychology, 155, 107–114. CrossRef
- Brugman, E., Goedhart, H., Vogels, T., & Van Zessen, G. (1995). Jeugd en seks 95. Resultaten van het nationale scholierenonderzoek [Youth and sexuality 95. Results from the national high school students survey]. Utrecht, The Netherlands: SWP.
- Cowart-Steckler, D. (1984). A Guttman scale of sexual experience: An update. Journal of Sex Education and Therapy, 10(2), 49–52.
- Davis, P., & Lay-Yee, R. (1999). Early sex and its behavioral consequences in New Zealand. Journal of Sex Research, 36, 135–144. CrossRef
- de Graaf, H., Meijer, S., Poelman, J., & Vanwesenbeeck, I. (2005). Seks onder je 25 e : Seksuele gezondheid van jongeren in Nederland anno 2005 [Sex under 25: Sexual health of young people in the Netherlands in the year 2005]. Delft, The Netherlands: Eburon.
- Feldman, S. S., Turner, R. A., & Araujo, K. (1999). Interpersonal contexts as an influence on sexual timetables of youths: Gender and ethnic effects. Journal of Research on Adolescence, 9, 25–52. CrossRef
- Greenberg, J., Magder, L., & Aral, S. (1992). Age at first coitus: A marker for risky sexual behavior in women. Sexually Transmitted Diseases, 19, 331–334. CrossRef
- Hagestad, G. (1996). On-time, off-time, out of time? Reflections on continuity and discontinuity from an illness process. In V. Bengtson (Ed.), Adulthood and aging: Research on continuities and discontinuities (pp. 204–222). New York: Springer.
- Hansen, W. B., Wolkenstein, B. H., & Hahn, G. L. (1992). Young adult sexual behavior: Issues in programming and evaluation. Health Education Research, 7, 305–312. CrossRef
- Jakobsen, R. (1997). Stages of progression in noncoital sexual interactions among young adolescents: An application of the Mokken scale analysis. International Journal of Behavioral Development, 21, 537–553. CrossRef
- Lam, T. H., Shi, H. J., Ho, L. M., Stewart, S. M., & Fan, S. (2002). Timing in pubertal maturation and heterosexual behavior among Hong Kong Chinese adolescents. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 31, 359–366. CrossRef
- Mosher, W., Chandra, A., & Jones, J. (2005). Sexual behavior and selected health measures: Men and women 15–44 years of age, United States, 2002. Advance data from vital and health statistics, No. 362. Hyattsville, MD: National Center for Health Statistics.
- Nooij, A. (1995). Variabelen en modellen [Variables and models]. Amsterdam, The Netherlands: Boom.
- Oliver, M. B., & Hyde, J. S. (1993). Gender differences in sexuality: A meta-analysis. Psychological Bulletin, 114, 29–51. CrossRef
- Petersen, A. C., Leffert, N., & Graham, B. L. (1995). Adolescent development and the emergence of sexuality. Suicide and Life-Threatening Behavior, 25, 4–17.
- Rademakers, J., & Straver, C. (1986). Van fascinatie naar relatie: Het leren omgaan met relaties en sexualiteit in de jeugdperiode; een ontwikkelingsdynamische studie [From fascination to relationship: Learning how to deal with relationships and sexuality during adolescence; a developmental-dynamic study]. Zeist, The Netherlands: NISSO.
- Rosenthal, D. A., & Smith, A. M. A. (1997). Adolescent sexual timetables. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 26, 619–636. CrossRef
- Smith, E. A., & Udry, J. R. (1985). Coital and non-coital sexual behaviors of white and black adolescents. American Journal of Public Health, 75, 1200–1203. CrossRef
- Thompson, S. (1990). Putting a big thing into a little hole: Teenage girls’ accounts of sexual initiation. Journal of Sex Research, 30, 18–26.
- van Ginneken, B., Ohlrichs, Y., & Van Dam, A. (2004). Zwijgen is zonde; over seksuele vorming voor multiculturele en -religieuze jongeren [Keeping silent is a sin; about sex education for multicultural and religious youth]. Utrecht, The Netherlands: Rutgers Nisso Groep.
- van Zessen, G. (1995). Wisselend contact: Seksuele levensverhalen van mensen met veel partners [Changing partners: Sexual life histories of people with multiple partners]. Leiden, The Netherlands: DSWO Press.
- Vanwesenbeeck, I. (1997). Female sexual power and control: From problem to promise. In A. van Lenning, M. Bekker, & I. Vanwesenbeeck (Eds.), Feminist utopias in a postmodern era (pp. 161–175). Tilburg, The Netherlands: Tilburg University Press.
- Sexual Trajectories during Adolescence: Relation to Demographic Characteristics and Sexual Risk
Archives of Sexual Behavior
Volume 38, Issue 2 , pp 276-282
- Cover Date
- Print ISSN
- Online ISSN
- Springer US
- Additional Links
- Sexual trajectory
- Sexual behavior
- Sexual risks
- Industry Sectors
- Author Affiliations
- 1. Rutgers Nisso Groep, P.O. Box 9022, Utrecht, 3506 GA, The Netherlands
- 2. STI AIDS Netherlands, Amsterdam, The Netherlands
- 3. Department of Clinical and Health Psychology, Utrecht University, Utrecht, The Netherlands
- 4. Research Centre Adolescent Development, Utrecht University, Utrecht, The Netherlands