The Effects of Manipulated and Biographical Parent Disengagement on the Sexually Risky Attitudes and Intentions of College Women

Abstract

The purpose of the present study was to investigate whether manipulated and biographical parent disengagement were associated with sexually risky attitudes and intentions. College women (N = 140) completed an online experiment in which they were asked to recall a time when one of their parents (father or mother) was either engaged or disengaged, write about it, and then complete a series of inventories measuring their sexual attitudes, sexual intentions, and biographical information. Experimental data were analyzed using a 2 (Parent Prime: father or mother) × 2 (Engagement Prime: engaged or disengaged) ANCOVA, with the Mini-K (Figueredo et al., Developmental Review 26:243–275, 2006) as the covariate. Experimental results showed a significant main effect for the engagement prime on sexually risky attitudes and intentions, F(1, 98) = 4.34, p = .04, \({\eta }_{partial}^{2}\) = .04. Women who recalled a time when a parent was disengaged (M = 24.25, SD = 6.84), endorsed more sexually risky attitudes and intentions than those who recalled a time when a parent was engaged (M = 21.83, SD = 7.31). Consistent with these results, correlational analyses also revealed that childhood and current biographical parent disengagement were significantly associated with sexually risky attitudes and intentions. Results are discussed from an evolutionary perspective using Life History Theory.

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Correspondence to Lisa M. Bohon.

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Appendices

Appendix 1

Future Sexual Risk Inventory (FSRI)

Please respond to the items below using the following scale

  • 5 – Strongly Agree

  • 4 – Agree

  • 3 – Neutral

  • 2 – Disagree

  • 1 – Strongly Disagree

  • 1. Sex without love is OK.

  • 2. I can imagine myself being comfortable and enjoying "casual" sex with different partners.

  • 3. I do not want to have sex with a person until I am sure that we will have a long-term, serious relationship.

  • 4. I will use protection (e.g., condom) when I have sex.

  • 5. I would have sex while I am intoxicated from alcohol or drugs.

  • 6. I would have sex while my partner is intoxicated from alcohol or drugs.

  • 7. I would never have sex with a partner who injects drugs.

  • 8. I would never have sex with someone who was physically forceful, hurtful or threatening.

  • 9. I would have overlapping sexual relationships with different partners.

  • 10. I would never exchange sex for money, drugs, or a place to stay.

  • 11. I would never cheat on a partner.

  • 12. I don’t see myself getting married.

  • 13. I will not commit to someone for life.

Reverse score: 3, 4, 7, 8, 10, and 11

Note: High scores indicate greater risk

Appendix 2

Biographical Questionnaire

  1. 1

    I have a good relationship with my biological mother now. 5-point response scale

  2. 2

    I have a good relationship with my biological father now. 5-point response scale

  3. 3

    Were you adopted? Yes/No

  4. 4

    Did your biological father leave when you were a child? Yes/No

    1. a

      If so how old were you?

  5. 5

    Did your biological mother leave when you were a child? Yes/No

    1. a

      If so how old were you?

  6. 6

    Were your parents divorced? Yes/No

    1. a

      If yes, did your biological mother have a significant other who lived with you after your parents split up? Yes/No

    2. b

      If yes, did your biological father have a significant other who lived with you after your parents split up? Yes/No

  7. 7

    Have you ever been diagnosed with a mental illness? Yes/No

    1. a

      If yes please specify ________________

    2. b

      If yes, have you ever taken medication for a mental illness?

  8. 8

    Have you ever been convicted of a crime? Yes/No

    1. a

      If yes please specify ________________

    2. b

      If yes, was it a felony?

  9. 9

    What is your sexual orientation?

  10. 10

    Heterosexual

  11. 11

    Homosexual

  12. 12

    Bisexual

  13. 13

    Other (Please specify) ________________

  14. 14

    Prefer not to answer

  15. 15

    What is your relationship status?

    1. a

      Married

    2. b

      In a relationship

    3. c

      Single

    4. d

      Divorced

    5. e

      Other (Please specify) ________________

    6. f

      Prefer not to answer

  16. 16

    What is your ethnic background?

    1. a

      American Indian, Eskimo, or Aleut

    2. b

      Asian or Pacific Islander

    3. c

      Black or African American

    4. d

      Hispanic, Latino, or Of Spanish Origin

    5. e

      Middle Eastern

    6. f

      White/European American

    7. g

      Multi-Ethnic, specify: ________________

    8. h

      Other, specify: _________________

  17. 17

    What is your highest level of education?

    1. a

      some high school

    2. b

      high school graduate

    3. c

      some college

    4. d

      college graduate

    5. e

      some graduate school

    6. f

      Master's degree

    7. g

      Ph.D., M.D., J.D., etc.

    8. h

      post-doctoral work

  18. 18

    What do you consider to be your current socio-economic status?

    1. a

      Public Assistance

    2. b

      Working Class

    3. c

      Middle Class

    4. d

      Upper Middle Class

    5. e

      Upper Class

  19. 19

    Age _____

  20. 20

    Sex: ____________

  21. 21

    Income in thousands per year: __________

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Bohon, L.M., Lancaster, C., Sullivan, T.P. et al. The Effects of Manipulated and Biographical Parent Disengagement on the Sexually Risky Attitudes and Intentions of College Women. Evolutionary Psychological Science 7, 151–164 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s40806-020-00266-6

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Keywords

  • Life history
  • Priming
  • Parenting
  • Sexual risk
  • Reproductive behavior