Sexual Motivations and Engagement in Sexual Behavior During the Transition to College
- 485 Downloads
Motivations for and against sex are salient predictors of engaging in or abstaining from sex in cross-sectional studies. Participants (N = 637, 41.4% male) provided data on their motivations for and against sex and lifetime sexual behavior prior to entering college and six months into the first year in college. Longitudinal data were used to examine differences on motivations for and against sex reported the summer before college entrance for students who continued to abstain (Nevers, 44.7%), transitioned to sexual behavior in the following months (Transitioners, 11.0%), and who were previously sexually active (Actives, 44.3%). Multivariate analysis of variance analyses indicated that Transitioners evidenced mean-level differences in motivations surrounding sex (greater intimacy and enhancement motives for sex, lower values motives against sex) prior to their behavioral initiation compared to Nevers. In addition, Transitioners reported greater changes in motivations from pre-college to the six-month follow-up, including increased enhancement motivations for sex and decreased values and not ready motivations against sex. Men reported more important motivations for sex and less important motivations against sex than women, with an interaction showing that sexually experienced women reported more important intimacy motivations and sexually inexperienced men reported more important coping motivations for sex. Identifying salient motivations associated with imminent changes in sexual behavior may support the development of sexual health promotion programs that seek to reach sexually inexperienced individuals at important times of transition.
KeywordsMotivation Sexual behavior Sexual health College students
Data collection was supported by a grant from the National Institute for Drug Abuse to C. Lee (R21 DA019257). Manuscript preparation was funded by a grant from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism to M. Patrick (F31 AA017014).
- Ajzen, I., & Fishbein, M. (2000). The prediction of behavior from attitudinal and normative variables. In E. T. Higgins & A. W. Kruglanski (Eds.), Motivational science: Social and personality perspectives. Key readings in social psychology (pp. 177–190). New York: Psychology Press.Google Scholar
- BACCHUS. (2007). SmarterSex.org. Available online at www.smartersex.org.
- Cooper, M. L. (2002). Alcohol use and risky sexual behavior among college students and youth: Evaluating the evidence. Journal of Studies on Alcohol, Supplement No. 14, 101–117.Google Scholar
- Cooper, M. L., & Shapiro, C. M. (1997). Motivations for health behaviors among adolescents. In J. A. McNamara, & C. Trotman (Eds.), Creating the compliant patient (Vol. 33, pp. 25–46). Ann Arbor, MI: Center for Human Growth and Development, University of Michigan.Google Scholar
- Jessor, R., & Jessor, S. L. (1977). Problem behavior and psychosocial development: A longitudinal study of youth. New York: Academic Press.Google Scholar
- Larimer, M. E., & Cronce, J. M. (2002). Identification, prevention, and treatment: A review of individual-focused strategies to reduce problematic alcohol consumption by college students. Journal of Studies on Alcohol, Supplement No. 14, 148–163.Google Scholar
- Lee, C. M., Neighbors, C., Kilmer, J. R., & Larimer, M. E. (2008). A brief web-based personalized feedback selective intervention for college student marijuana use: A randomized clinical trial. Manuscript submitted for publication.Google Scholar
- Lefkowitz, E. S., & Gillen, M. M. (2005). “Sex is just a normal part of life”: Sexuality in emerging adulthood. In J. J. Arnett & J. L. Tanner (Eds.), Emerging adults in America: Coming of age in the 21st century (pp. 235–255). Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.Google Scholar
- Marlatt, G. A., Baer, J. S., Kivlahan, D. R., Dimeff, L. A., Larimer, M. E., Quigley, L. A., et al. (1998). Screening and brief intervention for high-risk college student drinkers: Results from a 2-year follow-up assessment. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 66, 604–615.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
- Miller, W. R., & Rollnick, S. (1991). Motivational interviewing: Preparing people to change addictive behavior. New York: Guilford Press.Google Scholar
- Mosher, W. D., Chandra, A., & Jones, J. (2005). Sexual behavior and selected health measures: Men and women 15–44 years of age, United States, 2002. Bethesda, MD: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Health Statistics.Google Scholar
- Ozer, E. J., Dolcini, M. M., & Harper, G. W. (2003). Adolescents’ reasons for having sex: Gender differences. Journal of Adolescent Health, 35, 317–319.Google Scholar
- Patrick, M. E., Maggs, J. L., Cooper, M. L., & Lee, C. M. (2008). Measurement of motivations for and against sexual behavior. Manuscript submitted for publication.Google Scholar
- Regenerus, M. D. (2007). Forbidden fruit: Sex and religion in the lives of American teenagers. New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
- Schulenberg, J. E., & Maggs, J. L. (2002). A developmental perspective on alcohol use and heavy drinking during adolescence and the transition to young adulthood. Journal of Studies on Alcohol, Supplement No. 14, 54–70.Google Scholar