Date of Degree

5-2015

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Ph.D.

Program

Educational Psychology

Advisor(s)

Georgiana Tryon

Subject Categories

Educational Psychology

Keywords

Multisystemic Approach; Parental Sex Attitudes; Peer Sex Attitudes; Self-Esteem; Youth Risky Sexual Attitudes; Youth Risky Sexual Behavior

Abstract

The current investigation examined the relationship between the risky sexual attitudes/behavior of 18 to 24 year old college students (N = 250) and variables from the self-, family, and peer systems. The variables that were used to predict participants' risky sexual attitudes and behavior included gender, three self-esteem constructs (i.e., global self-esteem level and parental/peer approval contingent self-esteem), and participants' perceptions of their parent/caregiver and peer's attitudes toward risky sex. Lastly, social desirability was used as a control variable.

Taken together, the goals of the study were to: (a) determine whether global self-esteem level or parental/peer approval contingent self-esteem would emerge as the best predictor of participants' risky sexual attitudes/behavior; (b) investigate the relationship amongst participants' sexual attitudes/behavior and perceived parental and peer risky sexual attitudes; (c) examine the extent to which the relationship between participants' sexual attitudes/behavior and perceived parental and peer sex attitudes would vary according to participants' level of parental and peer approval contingent self-esteem; and (d) clarify the relationship between global self-esteem level and risky sexual behavior by examining the extent to which it would vary according to participants' level of parental and peer approval contingent self-esteem and perceived parental and peer sex attitudes. An additional goal of the dissertation was to examine gender differences amongst these targeted relationships while controlling for social desirable responding.

Based on hierarchical multiple regression analyses, few significant findings emerged. Parental approval contingent self-esteem, relative to the remaining two self-esteem constructs, emerged as the best predictor of participants' sexual behavior; (b) gender differences were observed in the relationship between global self-esteem level and participants' sexual behavior; (c) perceived parental and peer sex attitudes significantly predicted participants' sex attitudes; and (d) participants' sex attitudes and perceived peer sex attitudes significantly predicted participants' sexual behavior. Unexpectedly, the extent to which global self-esteem level predicted participants' sexual behavior varied according to participants' perceptions of their parent/caregiver's sex attitudes. Based on the findings from the study, the dissertation discusses implications for prevention/intervention programs that are aimed at improving young peoples' sexual attitudes and decreasing youth risky sexual behavior. It also discusses implications for future research.

 
 

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