Sex Roles

, Volume 57, Issue 1–2, pp 81–90 | Cite as

Gender-specific Normative Misperceptions of Risky Sexual Behavior and Alcohol-related Risky Sexual Behavior

  • Melissa A. Lewis
  • Christine M. Lee
  • Megan E. Patrick
  • Nicole Fossos
Original Article


This research examined gender-specific perceptions of risky sexual behavior norms among college students and their relationship with one’s own sexual behavior. We expected that students would misperceive the risky sexual behavior of their peers and that these perceptions would positively relate to their sexual behavior. Undergraduate students from the United States (N = 687; 57.6% female) completed measures assessing perceived sexual behavior, sexual behavior, and other behaviors (e.g., marijuana use, alcohol consumption). Findings demonstrated that students perceived that others engaged in more risky sexual behavior than they do and that perceived norms were positively associated with one’s own behavior. The incorporation of personalized normative feedback regarding risky sexual behavior into brief interventions aimed at reducing risky sexual behavior is discussed.


Normative misperceptions Social norms Risky sexual behavior Alcohol-related risky sexual behavior 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Melissa A. Lewis
    • 1
  • Christine M. Lee
    • 1
  • Megan E. Patrick
    • 2
  • Nicole Fossos
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral SciencesUniversity of WashingtonSeattleUSA
  2. 2.Human Development and Family StudiesThe Pennsylvania State UniversityUniversity ParkUSA

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