Risks, Risk Factors, and Outcomes Associated with Phone and Internet Sexting Among University Students in the United States
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Sexting, defined as the exchange of sexually suggestive pictures or messages via mobile phone or social networking sites (SNS), has received media attention for its prevalence and associated negative outcomes; however, research has not yet fully established risk factors for and resulting outcomes from sexting behaviors. The current study was the first empirical test of a causal path model in males and females, in which impulsivity-related traits and expectancies influence sexual behaviors through phone and SNS sexting. We also examined prevalence and perceived likelihood of common negative outcomes associated with sexting. Multiple regression and structural equation modeling (SEM) statistics were conducted on two independent undergraduate samples (n = 611 and 255). The best fitting SEM model (RMSEA = 0.04, CFI = 0.96, TLI = 0.94, and χ2 = 176.06, df = 75, p < .001) demonstrated a significant indirect effect of sensation seeking on phone sexting behaviors through sex-related sexting expectancies and a significant indirect effect of sensation seeking on sexual hookup behaviors through phone sexting behaviors (b = 0.06, p = .03), but only for females. Reverse mediations and mediation with SNS were not significant. Negative outcomes were rare: sexts being spread to others was the most common negative sexting experience (n = 21, 12 %). This study suggests the viability of personality and expectancies affecting sexual hookup behaviors through engagement in sexting behaviors. It also suggests that although direct negative outcomes associated with sexting are thought to be common, they were rare in the current sample.
KeywordsSexting Sexual behavior Impulsivity Expectancies
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