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Sexual Scripts and Sexual Risk Behaviors Among Black Heterosexual Men: Development of the Sexual Scripts Scale

Abstract

Sexual scripts are widely shared gender and culture-specific guides for sexual behavior with important implications for HIV prevention. Although several qualitative studies document how sexual scripts may influence sexual risk behaviors, quantitative investigations of sexual scripts in the context of sexual risk are rare. This mixed methods study involved the qualitative development and quantitative testing of the Sexual Scripts Scale (SSS). Study 1 included qualitative semi-structured interviews with 30 Black heterosexual men about sexual experiences with main and casual sex partners to develop the SSS. Study 2 included a quantitative test of the SSS with 526 predominantly low-income Black heterosexual men. A factor analysis of the SSS resulted in a 34-item, seven-factor solution that explained 68 % of the variance. The subscales and coefficient alphas were: Romantic Intimacy Scripts (α = .86), Condom Scripts (α = .82), Alcohol Scripts (α = .83), Sexual Initiation Scripts (α = .79), Media Sexual Socialization Scripts (α = .84), Marijuana Scripts (α = .85), and Sexual Experimentation Scripts (α = .84). Among men who reported a main partner (n = 401), higher Alcohol Scripts, Media Sexual Socialization Scripts, and Marijuana Scripts scores, and lower Condom Scripts scores were related to more sexual risk behavior. Among men who reported at least one casual partner (n = 238), higher Romantic Intimacy Scripts, Sexual Initiation Scripts, and Media Sexual Socialization Scripts, and lower Condom Scripts scores were related to higher sexual risk. The SSS may have considerable utility for future research on Black heterosexual men’s HIV risk.

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Acknowledgments

This research was supported by the National Institutes of Child Health and Development (Grant R01 HD054319-01) award to Lisa Bowleg. We are especially grateful to the men who participated in all phases of the research. Their participation is invaluable to this work. We also wish to thank Jenné Massie, M.S., the study’s project director and are grateful to our recruiters and our research assistants (Chioma Azi, Sheba King, Ashley Martin, and Richa Ranade) for their tireless dedication to the study.

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Bowleg, L., Burkholder, G.J., Noar, S.M. et al. Sexual Scripts and Sexual Risk Behaviors Among Black Heterosexual Men: Development of the Sexual Scripts Scale. Arch Sex Behav 44, 639–654 (2015). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10508-013-0193-y

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Keywords

  • Sexual scripts
  • Sexual risk behaviors
  • Black/African American men
  • HIV risk
  • Mixed methods