Studying Adolescent Male Sexuality: Where Are We?
- Cite this article as:
- Smith, L.H., Guthrie, B.J. & Oakley, D.J. J Youth Adolescence (2005) 34: 361. doi:10.1007/s10964-005-5762-5
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This article critically reviews the literature about adolescent males’ sexuality in order to describe the state of the science and to identify promising concepts and research designs that have the potential to guide the next generation of research. A critique was conducted on 94 peer-reviewed studies of sexual behaviors that included a sample of adolescent males; 11 scholarly texts and 2 dissertations. Most studies lacked a theoretical foundation and had cross-sectional designs. For those studies with a theoretical base, 3 perspectives were most often used to guide research: cognitive, biological, or social-environmental. Studies frequently relied on older adolescents or young adult males to report behaviors during early adolescence. Male-only samples were infrequent. Findings include (a) the measurement of sexual activity is frequently limited to coitus and does not explore other forms of “sex”; (b) cognitive factors have been limited to knowledge, attitudes, and intent; (c) little is known about younger males based on their own self-reports; (d) little is known about the normative sexuality development of gay adolescent males; and (e) longitudinal studies did not take into account the complexities of biological, social, and emotional development in interaction with other influences. Research on adolescent sexuality generally is about sexual activity, with little research that includes cognitive competency or young males’ sense of self as a sexual being. The purpose of the paper is to critically review the literature about male sexuality in order to describe the state of the science as well as to identify potential directions to guide the next generation of adolescent male sexual being research.