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


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.


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Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 1995

Authors and Affiliations

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

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