Sexuality Research and Social Policy

, Volume 15, Issue 4, pp 421–432 | Cite as

Longitudinal Correlates of Peer Sexual Communication Quality in Late Adolescence

  • Emily A. WatermanEmail author
  • Rose Wesche
  • Eva S. Lefkowitz


Comfort discussing sex with friends may develop over time and may be associated with individual and peer characteristics. The current paper uses longitudinal data to examine the developmental trajectory and between- and within-person correlates of peer sexual communication quality. Participants were 434 college students (52.1% female, 38.7% European American/White, 32.5% African American/Black, 28.8% Latino American/Hispanic; M = 18.0 [SD = 0.4] years old fall of first year) who completed surveys at four semesters. Peer sexual communication quality improved across the college years, and tended to be higher during semesters when late adolescents held less conservative attitudes about sex and communicated about sex more frequently. Additionally, peer sexual communication quality was better among women and late adolescents who were sexually active at more semesters. We discuss implications for peer-led sexual health intervention programs and for theories of normative sexuality development.


Peers Sexual communication Sexual attitudes Sexuality development Adolescence 



This work was supported by grant #R01 HD 41720 from the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development to Jennifer L. Maggs and by grants #T32 DA017629 and #P50 DA039838 from the National Institute on Drug Abuse. The views expressed in this article are ours and do not reflect the funding agency.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Studies Involving Human Participants

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 was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Emily A. Waterman
    • 1
    Email author
  • Rose Wesche
    • 2
  • Eva S. Lefkowitz
    • 3
  1. 1.Bennett Pierce Prevention Research CenterThe Pennsylvania State UniversityUniversity ParkUSA
  2. 2.Center for AIDS Intervention Research, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral SciencesMedical College of WisconsinMilwaukeeUSA
  3. 3.Human Development & Family StudiesUniversity of ConnecticutStorrsUSA

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