Archives of Sexual Behavior

, Volume 42, Issue 4, pp 523–532 | Cite as

Risky Sexual Behaviors in Emerging Adults: Longitudinal Changes and Within-Person Variations

  • Chun Bun LamEmail author
  • Eva S. Lefkowitz
Original Paper


This study examined longitudinal changes in condom use inconsistency and sexual encounters involving alcohol use and the within-person associations of these two risky sexual behaviors with other personal and contextual factors. Data were drawn from a sample of college students who completed surveys on four occasions across 3 years and included 317 participants (48 % male; 32 % African American, 28 % Latino American, and 40 % European American) who reported recent penetrative sexual activities on at least one of the occasions. Multilevel models revealed that, although condom use inconsistency increased and then leveled off over time, sexual encounters involving alcohol use showed a linear increase. Moreover, at times when students held more negative attitudes toward condoms than usual, they used condoms less consistently than usual; at times when students felt more anxious about HIV/AIDS than usual, they had more sexual encounters involving alcohol use than usual; and at times when students were involved in a serious relationship, they used condoms less consistently and had fewer sexual encounters involving alcohol use than usual. Findings demonstrate the utility of a developmental perspective in understanding sexual behaviors, the importance of examining the unique correlates of different risky sexual behaviors, and the distinctiveness between within-person versus between-person associations.


Alcohol use HIV/AIDS Condom use Condom-related attitudes Romantic relationships 



This study was funded by a grant from the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development to Eva S. Lefkowitz (R01-HD41720). We would like to thank Sandra Abarca, Jill Boelter, Lauren Dietz, Jennifer Fang, Graciela Espinosa-Hernandez, Meghan Gillen, Shelley Hosterman, McKenzie Jones, Emily Killoren, Casey O’Neil, Annie Pezella, Cindy Shearer, and Tara Stoppa for their help in data collection and management.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Human Development and Family StudiesThe Pennsylvania State UniversityUniversity ParkUSA

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