Sex Roles

, Volume 32, Issue 7–8, pp 545–555 | Cite as

Gender and patterns of sexual risk taking in college students

  • Paul J. Poppen
Brief Report

Abstract

The role that gender plays in influencing the prevalence and patterns of sexual risk taking was examined in 245 college students from two samples (about 60% of whom were White, 20% Asian, 10% Black, and 6% Hispanic). The sexual experiences of these students were analyzed for potential risk associated with type of partners or sexual practices. Consistent with previous findings, males engaged in more risk taking behaviors relevant to partner choice (e.g., more partners and more casual knowledge of partners) and sexual practices (e.g., lower levels of contraceptive use) than females. Gender differences in patterns of risk taking were also found: For females, potentially risky behavior in the partner domain was negatively related to risky behavior in the sexual practice domain, whereas for males, the domains were positively related. The results suggested that males engaged in greater risk taking across many domains, while females compensate for risk in one domain by lower risk in another.

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

References

  1. Aral, S. O. (1993). Heterosexual transmission of HIV: The role of other sexually transmitted infections and behavior in its epidemiology prevention and control.Annual Review of Public Health, 14, 451–467.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  2. Arnett, J. (1990). Drunk driving, sensation seeking, and egocentrism among adolescents.Personality and Individual Differences, 11, 541–546.Google Scholar
  3. Aspinwall, L. G., Kemeny, M. E., Taylor, S. E., Schneider, S. G., & Dudley, J. P. (1991). Psychosocial predictors of Gay Men's risk-reduction behavior.Health Psychology, 10, 432–444.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  4. Baldwin, J. D., & Baldwin, J. I. (1988). Factors affecting AIDS-related sexual risk-taking behavior among college students.Journal of Sex Research, 25, 181–196.Google Scholar
  5. Bishop, P. D., & Lipsitz, A. (1990). Sexual behavior among college students in the AIDS era: A comparative study.Journal of Psychology and Human Sexuality, 3, 35–52.Google Scholar
  6. Campbell, S. M., Peplau, L. A., & DeBro, S. C. (1992). Women, men and condoms: The attitudes and experiences of heterosexual college students.Psychology of Women Quarterly, 16, 273–288.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  7. Catania, J. A., Dolcini, M., Coates, T. J., Kegeles, S. M., Greenblatt, R., Pucket, S., Corman, M., & Miller, J. (1989). Predictors of condom use and multiple partner sex among sexually-active adolescent women: Implications for AIDS-related health interventions.Journal of Sex Research, 26, 514–524.Google Scholar
  8. Catania, J. A., Gibson, D. R., Chitwood, D. D., & Coates, T. J. (1990). Methodological problems in AIDS behavioral research: Influences on measurement error and participation bias in studies of sexual behavior.Psychological Bulletin, 108, 339–362.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  9. Chodorow, N. (1978).The reproduction of mothering. Berkeley: University of California Press.Google Scholar
  10. Clark, R. D., & Hatfield, E. (1989). Gender differences in receptivity to sexual offers.Journal of Psychology and Human Sexuality, 2, 39–55.Google Scholar
  11. Dolcini, M. M., Catania, J. A., Coates, T. J., Stall, R., Hudes, E. S., Gagnon, J. H., & Pollack, L. M. (1993). Demographic characteristics of heterosexuals with multiple partners: The National AIDS Behavioral Surveys.Family Planning Perspectives, 25, 208–214.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  12. Edwards, S. R. (1994). The role of men in contraceptive decision making: Current knowledge and future implications.Family Planning Perspectives, 26, 77–82.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  13. Helweg-Larsen, M., & Collins, B. E. (1994). The UCLA multidimensional Condom Attitudes Scale: Documenting the complex determinants of condom use in college students.Health Psychology, 13, 224–237.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  14. Jessor, R. (1987). Risky driving and adolescent problem behavior: An extension of problem behavior theory.Alcohol, Drugs and Driving, 3, 1–11.Google Scholar
  15. Laumann, E. O., Gagnon, J. H., Michael, R. T., & Michaels, S. (1994).The Social Organization of Sexuality. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  16. Lee, H. (1989). Genital chlamydial infection in female and male college students.Journal of American College Health, 37, 288–291.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  17. Lottes, I. L. (1993). Nontraditional gender roles and the sexual experiences of heterosexual college students.Sex Roles, 29, 645–669.Google Scholar
  18. Luker, K. (1975).Taking changes: Abortion and the decision not to contracept. Berkeley: University of California Press.Google Scholar
  19. Mischel, W. (1966). A social-learning view of sex differences in behavior. In E. E. Maccoby (Ed.),The development of sex differences. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press.Google Scholar
  20. Morris, M. (1993). Telling tails explain the discrepancy in sexual partner reports.Nature, 365, 437–440.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  21. Mosher, W. D., & McNally, J. W. (1991). Contraceptive use at first premarital intercourse: United States, 1965–1988.Family Planning Perspectives, 23, 108–116.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  22. Oliver, M. B., & Hyde, J. S. (1993). Gender differences in sexuality: A meta-analysis.Psychological Bulletin, 114, 29–51.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  23. Poppen, P. J. (1993). AIDS risk perception by heterosexual college students: Realistic or unrealistic? Presented at American Psychological Association conference. Toronto, August, 1993.Google Scholar
  24. Sacco, W. P., Levine, B., Reed, D. L., & Thompson, K. (1991). Attitudes about condom use as an AIDS-relevant behavior: Their factor structure and relation to condom use.Psychological Assessment, 2, 265–272.Google Scholar
  25. Sherwin, R., & Corbett, S. (1985). Campus sexual norms and dating relationships.Journal of Sex Research, 21, 258–274.Google Scholar
  26. Smith, T. W. (1992). A methodological analysis of the sexual behavior questions on the General Social Surveys.Journal of Official Statistics, 8, 309–325.Google Scholar
  27. Sonenstein, F. L., Pleck, J. H., & Ku, L. C. (1989). Sexual activity, condom use, and AIDS awareness among adolescent males.Family Planning Perspectives, 22, 152–158.Google Scholar
  28. Symons, D. (1979).The evolution of human sexuality. New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  29. Trocki, K. F. (1992). Patterns of sexuality and risky sexuality in the general population of a California county.Journal of Sex Research, 29, 85–94.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 1995

Authors and Affiliations

  • Paul J. Poppen
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyThe George Washington UniversityWashington, D.C.USA

Personalised recommendations