Ethnic, Gender, and Acculturation Influences on Sexual Behaviors
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Much research has been conducted on ethnic differences in sexuality, but few studies have systematically assessed the importance of acculturation in sexual behavior. The present study assessed general differences in normative sexual practices in healthy Euro-American, Asian, and Hispanic populations, using measures of acculturation to analyze the relative effects of heritage and mainstream cultures within each group. A total of 1,419 undergraduates (67% Euro-American, 17% Hispanic, 16% Asian; 33% men, 67% women) completed questionnaires which assessed sexual experience and causal sexual behaviors. In concordance with previous studies, Asians reported more conservative levels of sexual experience and frequency of sexual behaviors, fewer lifetime partners, and later ages of sexual debut than Euro-American or Hispanic counterparts. Hispanic reported sexual experiences similar to that of Euro-Americans. There was a significant interaction between mainstream and heritage acculturation in predicting number of lifetime sexual partners in Asian women such that the relationship between heritage acculturation and casual sexual behavior was stronger at lower levels of mainstream acculturation. On the other hand, in Hispanic men, higher levels of mainstream acculturation predicted more casual sexual behavior (one-time sexual encounters and number of lifetime sexual partners) when heritage acculturation was low but less casual sexual behavior when heritage acculturation was high. These results suggest that, for sexual behavior, Hispanic men follow an “ethnogenesis” model of acculturation while Asian women follow an “assimilation” model of acculturation.
KeywordsEthnic differences Gender differences Acculturation Sexuality Asian Hispanic Euro-American
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