Older adolescents' engagement in casual sex: Impact of risk perception and psychosocial motivations

Abstract

The relationship between attitudes for casual sex and casual sex behavior was investigated for a group of older adolescents between the ages of 17 and 19. In addition, factors that influence casual sex orientations were studied. Models of behavior that emphasize disease issues as a primary determinant of casual sex behavior were compared with models that emphasize a broader range of social-psychological motivations. Results showed that the relationship between attitudes and behavior was stronger for females than males. In addition, disease-related variables were found to be correlated with behavior in a direction opposite to what traditional disease models would predict. The results were interpreted in the context of a behavioral inference model. It was found that casual sex behavior is more heavily influenced by a broad range of social-psychological motivations as compared to disease-based variables. Implications for educational interventions were developed.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

References

  1. Allgeier, E. R., and McCormick, N. B. (1983). (eds.).Changing Boundaries: Gender Roles and Sexual Behavior. Mayfield, Palo Alto, CA.

  2. Anderson, J. E., Kann, L., Holtzman, D., Arday, S., Truman, B., and Kolbe, L. (1990). HIV/AIDS knowledge and sexual behavior among high school students.Family Plan. Perspect. 22: 252–255.

    Google Scholar 

  3. Baldwin, J. D., and Baldwin, J. I. (1988). Factors affecting AIDS-related sexual risk-taking behavior among college students.J. Sex Res. 25: 181–196.

    Google Scholar 

  4. Bentler, P. (1989).EQS Structural Equations Program Manual. Los Angeles: BMDP.

    Google Scholar 

  5. Bishop, P. D., and Lipsitz, A. (1990). Sexual behavior among college students in the AIDS era: A comparative studyJ. Psychology Human Sex. 3: 35–52.

    Google Scholar 

  6. Butcher, A. H., Manning, T., and O'Neal, E. C. (1991). HIV-related sexual behaviors of college students.J. Am. College Health 40: 115–118.

    Google Scholar 

  7. Cates, W. (1991). Teenagers and sexual risk taking: The best of times and the worst of times.J. Adoles. Health 12: 84–94.

    Google Scholar 

  8. DiClemente, R. J., Forrest, K. A., and Mickler, S. (1990). College students' knowledge and attitudes about AIDS and changes in HIV-preventive behaviors.AIDS Educat. Prevent. 2: 201–212.

    Google Scholar 

  9. Eisen, M., Zellman, G., and McAlister, A. (1990). Evaluating the impact of a theory-based sexuality and contraceptive program.Family Plan. Perspect. 22: 261–271.

    Google Scholar 

  10. Haas, A. (1979).Teenage Sexuality: A Survey of Teenage Sexual Behavior. Macmillian, New York.

    Google Scholar 

  11. Haberberger, R. L., Duncan, D. F., Frisch, L. E., and Narve, M. D. (1985). Epidemiological and clinical corelates of endocervical chlamydia infections in female university students presenting for routine pap examinationJ. Am. College Health 33: 262–263.

    Google Scholar 

  12. Harrison, H. R., Costin, M., Meder, J. B., Bownds, L. M., Sun, D. A., Lewis, M., and Alexander, E. R. (1985). Cervical chlamydia trachomatis infection in university women: Relationship to history, contraception, ectopy, and cervicitis.Am. J. Obstet. Gyn. 153: 244–251.

    Google Scholar 

  13. Hernandez, J. T., and Smith, F. J. (1990). Inconsistencies and misperceptions putting college students at risk of HIV infection.J. Adoles. Health Care 11: 295–297.

    Google Scholar 

  14. Howard, M., and McCabe, J. B. (1990). Helping teenagers postpone sexual involvement.Family Plan. Perspect. 22: 21–26.

    Google Scholar 

  15. Jaccard, J. (1975). A theoretical analysis of selected factors important to health education strategies.Health Educat. Monogr. 3: 152–166.

    Google Scholar 

  16. Jaccard, J. (1981). A comparison of three theories of social behavior: Implications for social action programs.J. Appl. Behav. Sci. 17: 212–245.

    Google Scholar 

  17. Jaccard, J., Helbig, D., Wan, C. K., Gutman, M., and Kritz-Silverstein, D. C. (1990). Individual differences in attitude-behavior consistency: The prediction of contraceptive behavior.J. Appl. Social Psychol. 20: 575–595.

    Google Scholar 

  18. Jaccard, J., Turrisi, R., and Wan, C. (1990).Interaction Effects in Multiple Regression. Sage, Beverly Hills, CA.

    Google Scholar 

  19. Jaccard, J., Wan, C., and Turrisi, R. (1990). The detection and interpretation of interaction effects between continuous variables in multiple regression.Multivar. Behav. Res. 25: 467–478.

    Google Scholar 

  20. Jaccard, J., and Wilson, T. (1991). Personality factors influencing risk behavior. In Wasserheit, J., Aral, S., and Holmes, K. (eds.),Research in Human Behavior and Sexually Transmitted Diseases in the AIDS Era. American Society for Microbiology, Washington, DC.

    Google Scholar 

  21. Jaccard, J., Wilson, T., and Radecki, C., (1993) Psychological issues in the treatment of HIV infected women. In Minkoff, H., and Duer, A. (eds.),HIV Infection in Women. Raven Press, New York.

    Google Scholar 

  22. Kaplan, J. E., Meyer, M., and Navin, J. (1988). Chlamydia trachomatis infection in a female college student population.J. Am. College Health 36: 294–296.

    Google Scholar 

  23. Keller, J. F., Elloitt, S. S., and Gunberg, E. (1982). Premarital sexual intercourse among single college students: A discriminant analysis.Sex Roles 8: 21–32.

    Google Scholar 

  24. King, A. J. C., Beazley, R. P., Warren, W. K., Hankins, C. A., Robertson, A. S., and Radford, J. L. (1988).Canada Youth and AIDS Study. Deferal Centre for AIDS, Ottawa, Ontario.

    Google Scholar 

  25. Kipinis, F., Capko, J., Storing, C., Hart, M., Tutt, S., and Wilson, R. (1988).AIDS and the Urban University. San Francisco State University, San Francisco CA.

    Google Scholar 

  26. Ku, L. C., Sonenstein, F. L., and Pleck, J. H. (1992). The association of AIDS education and sex education with sexual behavior and condom use among teenage men.Family Plan. Perspect. 24: 100–106.

    Google Scholar 

  27. Manning, D. T., Barenberg, N., Gallese, L., and Rice, J. C. (1989). College students' knowledge and health beliefs about AIDS: Implications for education and intervention.J. Am. College Health 37: 254–259.

    Google Scholar 

  28. Manning, D., Balson, P., Barenberg, N., and Moore, T. M. (1989). Susceptibility to AIDS: What college students do and don't believe.J. Am. College Health 37: 54–259.

    Google Scholar 

  29. McCormack, W. M., Rosner, B., McComb, D. E., Evrard, J. R., and Zinner, S. H. (1985). Infection with chlamydia trachomatis in female college students.Am. J. Epidemiol. 121: 107–115.

    PubMed  Google Scholar 

  30. Moore, S. M., and Rosenthal, D. A. (1991). Adolescent invulnerability and perceptions of risk.J. Adoles. Research 6: 164–180.

    Google Scholar 

  31. Pereira, C. A., Paquette, G. E. Wood, P. B., and Grant, S. A. (1987). Clinical and laboratory screening of chlamydia trachomatis in women at a university health serviceJ. Am. College Health 36: 39–43.

    Google Scholar 

  32. Phillis, D. E., and Gromko, M. H. (1985). Sex differences in sexual activity: Reality or illusion?J. Sex Res. 21: 437–448.

    Google Scholar 

  33. Reinsich, J. M., Sanders, S. A., Hill, C. A., and Ziemba-Davis, M. (1992). High-risk sexual behavior among heterosexual undergraduates at a midwestern university.Family Plan. Perspect. 24: 116–121.

    Google Scholar 

  34. Reiss, I. L. (1967).The Social Context of Premarital Sexual Intercourse. Holt, Reinhart, & Winston, New York.

    Google Scholar 

  35. Roscoe, B., and Kruger, T. L. (1990). AIDS: Late adolescents' knowledge and its influence on sexual behavior.Adolescence 25: 39–48.

    PubMed  Google Scholar 

  36. Schofield, M. (1965).The Sexual Behavior of Young People. Little, Brown, & Co., Boston.

    Google Scholar 

  37. Sorensen, R. C. (1973).Adolescent Sexuality in Contemporary America. World, New York.

    Google Scholar 

  38. Strunin, L., and Hingson, R. (1992). Alcohol, drugs, and adolescent sexual behavior.Int. J. Addic. 27: 129–146.

    Google Scholar 

  39. Spees, E. R. (1987). College students' attitudes and behaviors, 1974–1985: A review of the literature.J. College Student Person. 28: 135–140.

    Google Scholar 

  40. Swinker, M. (1986). Chlamydia trachomatis genital infections in college women.J. Am. College Health 34: 207–209.

    Google Scholar 

  41. Turner, J. C., Korpita, E., Mohn, L. A., and Hill, W. B. (1993). Reduction in sexual risk behaviors among college students following a comprehensive health education intervention.J. Am. College Health 41: 187–193.

    Google Scholar 

  42. Walsh, A. (1991). Self-esteem and sexual behavior: Exploring gender differences.Sex Roles 25: 441–449.

    Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Affiliations

Authors

Additional information

Received Ph.D. in education from Stanford University. Major research interests are in self-efficacy and adolescent sexual risk behavior.

Received Ph.D. in social psychology from the University of Illinois, Urbana. Major research interests are in parent-adolescent communication and quantitative methods.

Received M.A. in psychology from the University at Albany, State University of New York. Major research interests are in attitudes and attitude change.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Levinson, R.A., Jaccard, J. & Beamer, L. Older adolescents' engagement in casual sex: Impact of risk perception and psychosocial motivations. J Youth Adolescence 24, 349–364 (1995). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF01537601

Download citation

Keywords

  • Health Psychology
  • Risk Perception
  • Disease Model
  • Educational Intervention
  • Primary Determinant