Sexuality & Culture

, Volume 23, Issue 1, pp 57–95 | Cite as

Sexual Double Standards in White and Asian Americans: Ethnicity, Gender, and Acculturation

Original Paper


This study compares attitudes of sexual double standards (beliefs that grant more sexual freedom to men than to women) in White and Asian Americans. 506 heterosexual participants living in the U.S. (334 Whites and 172 Asians aged 18–45) answered questions assessing their attitudes towards men and women displaying various liberal sexual behaviors. Asian participants also indicated their levels of American acculturation and Asian cultural affiliation. The study found significant evidence of sexual double standards in both Whites and Asians, with certain ethnically different patterns. Whites and Asians did not differ significantly in their levels of sexual double standards when it concerned casual sexual and multiple sexual partners at the same time. However, Asians expressed stronger support for double standards than Whites when evaluating people for taking the initiative in sex and for having a large accumulated number of sexual partners. In both ethnic groups, men demonstrated stronger double standards than did women. Both Whites and Asians, regardless of gender, reported more conservative sexual attitudes for choosing marriage partners than in judging people in general. In the case of Asians, American acculturation and Asian cultural affiliation had limited and gender-specific effects on endorsement of sexual double standards. This study not only addresses an important gap in the sexual double standards literature but also brings new insights to the general discussion of ethnic differences in sexual attitudes.


Sexual attitudes Sexual behavior Sexual double standards Ethnic differences Gender differences Acculturation White American Asian American 



I would like to thank Dr. Jeffrey Lucas for his patient help with preparing the manuscript.

Compliance with Ethical Standards


This study was funded by Dean’s Research Initiative Grant (The College of Behavioral and Social Sciences, University of Maryland at College Park).

Conflict of interest

There is no potential conflict of interest involved in this study.

Ethnical Approval

This study was approved by University of Maryland College Park (UMCP) IRB (Project#: 921365-1). All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Informed Consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of SociologyUniversity of MarylandCollege ParkUSA

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