Sexuality Research and Social Policy

, Volume 14, Issue 1, pp 100–111

Latent Classes of Sexual Behaviors: Prevalence, Predictors, and Consequences

  • Rose Wesche
  • Eva S. Lefkowitz
  • Sara A. Vasilenko
Article

Abstract

Scholars of adolescent and emerging adult sexuality have recently begun to study how diverse patterns of sexual behaviors contribute to development and well-being. A person-oriented approach to studying sexual behaviors provides a nuanced understanding of sexual repertoires. The goals of this paper were to document patterns of sexual behaviors ranging from kissing to penetrative sex, and to examine how latent classes of behaviors, gender, and partner type (romantic versus nonromantic) predict intra- and interpersonal consequences of sexual behaviors. Latent class analysis of a stratified random sample of US college students revealed four classes of sexual behaviors: Kissing Only, Kissing and Touching, All Behaviors, and Oral and Penetrative Only. Compared to individuals in the All Behaviors class, individuals in the Kissing Only class were less likely to experience a positive or a negative intrapersonal consequence of sexual behaviors. Men were less likely to report a negative intrapersonal consequence than women were. Partner type predicted negative interpersonal consequences for the All Behaviors class. Implications are discussed in terms of normative sexual development, prevention, and sexual and relationship education.

Keywords

Sexual behaviors Sexual health Casual sex 

References

  1. Armstrong, E. A., England, P., & Fogarty, A. C. K. (2009). Orgasm in college hookups and relationships. In B. Risman (Ed.), Families as they really are (pp. 362–377). New York: Norton.Google Scholar
  2. Beadnell, B., Morrison, D. M., Wilsdon, A., Wells, E. A., Murowchick, E., Hoppe, M., & Nahom, D. (2005). Condom use, frequency of sex, and number of partners: multidimensional characterization of adolescent sexual risk-taking. Journal of Sex Research, 42, 192–202. doi:10.1080/00224490509552274.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  3. Bergman, L. R., & Magnusson, D. (1997). A person-oriented approach in research on developmental psychopathology. Development and Psychopathology, 9, 291–319. doi:10.1017/S095457949700206X.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  4. Bersamin, M. M., Zamboanga, B. L., Schwartz, S. J., Donnellan, M. B., Hudson, M., Weisskirch, R. S., & Caraway, S. J. (2014). Risky business: is there an association between casual sex and mental health among emerging adults? Journal of Sex Research, 51, 43–51. doi:10.1080/00224499.2013.772088.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  5. Bradshaw, C., Kahn, A. S., & Saville, B. K. (2010). To hook up or date: which gender benefits? Sex Roles, 62, 661–669. doi:10.1007/s11199-010-9765-7.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Bray, B. C., Lanza, S. T., & Tan, X. (2012). An introduction to eliminating bias in classify-analyze approaches for latent class analysis. Retrieved from http://methodology.psu.edu
  7. Cairns, R. B. (1983). The emergence of developmental psychology. In P. H. Mussen & W. Kessen (Eds.), Handbook of child psychology: history, theories and methods (4th ed., Vol. 1, pp. 41–101). New York: Wiley.Google Scholar
  8. Campbell, A. (2008). The morning after the night before: affective reactions to one-night stands among mated and unmated women and men. Human Nature, 19, 157–173. doi:10.1007/s12110-008-9036-2.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  9. Claxton, S. E., & van Dulmen, M. H. (2013). Casual sexual relationships and experiences in emerging adulthood. Emerging Adulthood, 1, 138–150. doi:10.1177/2167696813487181.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Collins, L. M., & Lanza, S. T. (2013). Latent class and latent transition analysis: with applications in the social, behavioral, and health sciences. New York: Wiley.Google Scholar
  11. Diamond, L. M., & Savin-Williams, R. C. (2009). Adolescent sexuality. In R. M. Lerner & L. D. Steinberg (Eds.), Handbook of adolescent psychology (3rd ed., Vol. 1, pp. 479–523). Hoboken: John Wiley & Sons.Google Scholar
  12. Edwards, W. M., & Coleman, E. (2004). Defining sexual health: a descriptive overview. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 33, 189–195. doi:10.1023/B:ASEB.0000026619.95734.d5.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  13. Eshbaugh, E. M., & Gute, G. (2008). Hookups and sexual regret among college women. Journal of Social Psychology, 148, 77–89. doi:10.3200/SOCP.148.1.77-90.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  14. Fielder, R. L., & Carey, M. P. (2010). Predictors and consequences of sexual “hookups” among college students: a short-term prospective study. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 39, 1105–1119. doi:10.1007/s10508-008-9448-4.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  15. Fielder, R. L., Carey, K. B., & Carey, M. P. (2013). Are hookups replacing romantic relationships? A longitudinal study of first-year female college students. Journal of Adolescent Health, 52, 657–659. doi:10.1016/j.jadohealth.2012.09.001.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  16. Fielder, R. L., Walsh, J. L., Carey, K. B., & Carey, M. P. (2014). Sexual hookups and adverse health outcomes: a longitudinal study of first-year college women. Journal of Sex Research, 51, 131–144. doi:10.1080/00224499.2013.848255.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  17. Furman, W., & Collibee, C. (2014). Sexual activity with romantic and nonromantic partners and psychosocial adjustment in young adults. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 43, 1327–1341. doi:10.1007/s10508-014-0293-3.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  18. Furman, W., & Shaffer, L. (2011). Romantic partners, friends, friends with benefits, and casual acquaintances as sexual partners. Journal of Sex Research, 48, 554–564. doi:10.1080/00224499.2010.535623.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  19. Goins, L., Garcia, L., & Barger, J. (2013). Perceptions of heterosexual activities by heterosexual individuals. Electronic Journal of Human Sexuality, 16.Google Scholar
  20. Grello, C. M., Welsh, D. P., & Harper, M. S. (2006). No strings attached: the nature of casual sex in college students. Journal of Sex Research, 43, 255–267. doi:10.1080/00224490609552324.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  21. Haydon, A. A., Herring, A. H., & Halpern, C. T. (2012a). Associations between patterns of emerging sexual behavior and young adult reproductive health. Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health, 44, 218–227. doi:10.1363/4421812.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  22. Haydon, A. A., Herring, A. H., Prinstein, M. J., & Halpern, C. T. (2012b). Beyond age at first sex: patterns of emerging sexual behavior in adolescence and young adulthood. Journal of Adolescent Health, 50, 456–463. doi:10.1016/j.jadohealth.2011.09.006.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  23. Hensel, D. J., Fortenberry, J. D., & Orr, D. P. (2008). Variations in coital and noncoital sexual repertoire among adolescent women. Journal of Adolescent Health, 42, 170–176. doi:10.1016/j.jadohealth.2007.07.009.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  24. Hipwell, A. E., Stepp, S. D., Keenan, K., Chung, T., & Loeber, R. (2011). Brief report: parsing the heterogeneity of adolescent girls’ sexual behavior: relationships to individual and interpersonal factors. Journal of Adolescence, 34, 589–592. doi:10.1016/j.adolescence.2010.03.002.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  25. Horne, S., & Zimmer-Gembeck, M. J. (2005). Female sexual subjectivity and well-being: comparing late adolescents with different sexual experiences. Sexuality Research & Social Policy, 2, 25–40. doi:10.1525/srsp.2005.2.3.25.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Hughes, S. M., Harrison, M. A., & Gallup, G. G., Jr. (2007). Sex differences in romantic kissing among college students: an evolutionary perspective. Evolutionary Psychology, 5, 612–631.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Jaccard, J., & Wan, C. K. (1995). Measurement error in the analysis of interaction effects between continuous predictors using multiple regression: multiple indicator and structural equation approaches. Psychological Bulletin, 117, 348. doi:10.1037//0033-2909.117.2.348.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Lanza, S. T., Collins, L. M., Lemmon, D. R., & Schafer, J. L. (2007). PROC LCA: a SAS procedure for latent class analysis. Structural Equation Modeling, 14, 671–694. doi:10.1080/10705510701575602.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  29. Lanza, S. T., Tan, X., & Bray, B. C. (2013). Latent class analysis with distal outcomes: a flexible model-based approach. Structural Equation Modeling: A Multidisciplinary Journal, 20, 1–26. doi:10.1080/10705511.2013.742377.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Lefkowitz, E. S., Vasilenko, S. A., & Leavitt, C. E. (2016). Oral vs. vaginal sex experiences and consequences among first-year college students. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 45, 329–337. doi:10.1007/s10508-015-0654-6.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  31. Lindberg, L. D., Jones, R., & Santelli, J. S. (2008). Noncoital sexual activities among adolescents. Journal of Adolescent Health, 43, 231–238. doi:10.1016/j.jadohealth.2007.12.010.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  32. Madkour, A. S., Farhat, T., Halpern, C. T., Godeau, E., & Gabhainn, S. N. (2010). Early adolescent sexual initiation as a problem behavior: a comparative study of five nations. Journal of Adolescent Health, 47, 389–398. doi:10.1007/s10964-010-9521-x.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  33. Magnusson, D. (1985). Implications of an interactional paradigm for research on human development. International Journal of Behavioral Development, 8, 115–137. doi:10.1177/016502548500800201.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Malacad, B. L., & Hess, G. C. (2010). Oral sex: behaviours and feelings of Canadian young women and implications for sex education. The European Journal of Contraception & Reproductive Health Care, 15, 177–185. doi:10.3109/13625181003797298.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Manning, W. D., Giordano, P. C., & Longmore, M. A. (2006). Hooking up: the relationship contexts of “nonrelationship” sex. Journal of Adolescent Research, 21, 459–483. doi:10.1177/0743558406291692.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. McAuliffe, T. L., DiFranceisco, W., & Reed, B. R. (2007). Effects of question format and collection mode on the accuracy of retrospective surveys of health risk behavior: a comparison with daily sexual activity diaries. Health Psychology, 26, 60–67. doi:10.1037/0278-6133.26.1.60.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  37. McClelland, G. H., & Judd, C. M. (1993). Statistical difficulties of detecting interactions and moderator effects. Psychological Bulletin, 114, 376–390. doi:10.1037/0033-2909.114.2.376.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  38. Meier, A. M. (2007). Adolescent first sex and subsequent mental health. American Journal of Sociology, 112, 1811–1847. doi:10.1086/512708.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Newman, P. A., & Zimmerman, M. A. (2000). Gender differences in HIV-related sexual risk behavior among urban African American youth: a multivariate approach. Aids Education and Prevention, 12, 308–325.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  40. O’Sullivan, L. F., Cheng, M. M., Harris, K. M., & Brooks‐Gunn, J. (2007). I wanna hold your hand: the progression of social, romantic and sexual events in adolescent relationships. Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health, 39, 100–107. doi:10.1363/3910007.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  41. Patrick, M. E., Maggs, J. L., & Lefkowitz, E. S. (2015). Daily associations between drinking and sex among college students: A longitudinal measurement burst design. Journal of Research on Adolescence, 25, 377–386. doi:10.1111/jora.12135.
  42. Paul, E. L., & Hayes, K. A. (2002). The casualties of ‘casual’ sex: a qualitative exploration of the phenomenology of college students’ hookups. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, 19, 639–661. doi:10.1177/0265407502195006.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Petersen, J. L., & Hyde, J. S. (2010). A meta-analytic review of research on gender differences in sexuality, 1993–2007. Psychological Bulletin, 136, 21–38. doi:10.1037/a0017504.
  44. Reese, B. M., Haydon, A. A., Herring, A. H., & Halpern, C. T. (2013). The association between sequences of sexual initiation and the likelihood of teenage pregnancy. Journal of Adolescent Health, 52, 228–233. doi:10.1016/j.jadohealth.2012.06.005.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  45. Rosenthal, D. A., & Smith, A. M. (1997). Adolescent sexual timetables. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 26, 619–636. doi:10.1023/A:1024538123804.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Santelli, J. S., Lindberg, L. D., Abma, J., McNeely, C. S., & Resnick, M. (2000). Adolescent sexual behavior: Estimates and trends from four nationally representative surveys. Family Planning Perspectives, 32, 156–194. doi:10.2307/2648232.
  47. Smiler, A. P., Frankel, L. B., & Savin-Williams, R. C. (2011). From kissing to coitus? Sex-of-partner differences in the sexual milestone achievement of young men. Journal of Adolescence, 34, 727–735. doi:10.1016/j.adolescence.2010.08.009.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  48. Strokoff, J., & Owen, J. (2014). Diverse reactions to hooking up among US university students. Archives of Sexual Behavior. doi:10.1007/s10508-014-0299-x. ahead-of-print.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  49. Uecker, J. E., Pearce, L. D., & Andercheck, B. (2015). The four U’s: latent classes of hookup motivations among college students. Social Currents, 2, 163–181. doi:10.1177/2329496515579761.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  50. Vasilenko, S. A., Lefkowitz, E. S., & Maggs, J. L. (2012). Short-term positive and negative consequences of sex based on daily reports among college students. Journal of Sex Research, 49, 558–569. doi:10.1080/00224499.2011.589101.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  51. Vasilenko, S. A., Maas, M. K., Lefkowitz, E. S., & Maggs, J. L. (2014). “It felt good but weird at the same time”: Emerging adults’ feelings about their first experiences of six different sexual behaviors.Google Scholar
  52. Vasilenko, S. A., Lefkowitz, E. S., & Welsh, D. P. (2014b). Is sexual behavior healthy for adolescents? A conceptual framework for research on adolescent sexual behavior and physical, mental, and social health. In E. S. Lefkowitz & S. A. Vasilenko (Eds.), Positive and negative outcomes of sexual behaviors. New directions for child and adolescent development (Vol. 144, pp. 3–19). doi:10.1002/cad.Google Scholar
  53. Vasilenko, S. A., Kugler, K. C., Butera, N., & Lanza, S. T. (2015). Patterns of adolescent sexual behavior predicting young adult sexually transmitted infections: a latent class analysis approach. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 44, 705–715. doi:10.1007/s10508-014-0258-6.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  54. Vrangalova, Z. (2015). Does casual sex harm college students’ well-being? A longitudinal investigation of the role of motivation. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 44, 945–959. doi:10.1007/s10508-013-0255-1.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  55. Wellings, K., Collumbien, M., Slaymaker, E., Singh, S., Hodges, Z., Patel, D., & Bajos, N. (2006). Sexual behaviour in context: a global perspective. The Lancet, 368, 1706–1728. doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(06)69479-8.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Welsh, D., Haugen, P., Widman, L., Darling, N., & Grello, C. (2005). Kissing is good: a developmental investigation of sexuality in adolescent romantic couples. Sexuality Research & Social Policy, 2, 32–41. doi:10.1525/srsp.2005.2.4.32.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Wlodarski, R., & Dunbar, R. I. (2013). Examining the possible functions of kissing in romantic relationships. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 42, 1415–1423. doi:10.1007/s10508-013-0190-1.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  58. Woody, J. D., Russel, R., D’Souza, H. J., & Woody, J. K. (2000). Adolescent non-coital sexual activity: comparisons of virgins and non-virgins. Journal of Sex Education and Therapy, 25, 261–268.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Rose Wesche
    • 1
  • Eva S. Lefkowitz
    • 1
  • Sara A. Vasilenko
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Human Development and Family StudiesThe Pennsylvania State UniversityUniversity ParkUSA
  2. 2.The Methodology CenterThe Pennsylvania State UniversityState CollegeUSA

Personalised recommendations