The relative influence of parents and peers on adolescent sexual behavior and contraceptive use as a function of age in adolescence

Dominique Anne Treboux, Fordham University

Abstract

A model was developed and tested to examine age differences in adolescent sexual behavior and contraceptive use. The model asserted that the perceived social network of adolescents would influence the sexual behavior and contraceptive use of adolescents via individual-psychological variables. Social network variables included discussion about sexual topics with parents and friends and perceived parental and friends' approval of respondent's sexual behavior. Individual-psychological variables consisted of respondent's contraceptive knowledge and premarital sexual attitudes. Paper and pencil questionnaires were administered to 363 high school students and 144 college students, 292 females and 212 males. The mean age was 19.8 years for the college sample and 16.5 years for the high school sample. While the expected quadratic and linear trends in means were not found for several social network and individual-psychological variables, results from the LISREL analyses indicated that the model differed significantly between 9th, 11th, 12th grade and college students. The influence of parents became stronger over time, while the influence of friends increased in high school and then decreased in college. The inconsistencies between the ANOVA and LISREL results suggest that the age variable should not be discounted in future research on adolescent sexuality. The most consistent findings were sex differences: females discussed more sexual topics with their mothers and friends, perceived greater disapproval from parents and friends for engaging in sexual behavior, were more parent-oriented and perceived greater compatibility between their parents and friends' views than males. Males discussed more sexual topics with their fathers, held more permissive sexual attitudes, and were more sexually experienced than females. In addition, the models differed significantly for males and females. For males, parental variables predicted the sexual attitudes of males, and discussion with friends predicted positively contraceptive knowledge; none of the individual-psychological variables predicted males' sexual or contraceptive behavior. For females, friends' attitudes predicted sexual behavior and contraceptive use via their effect on premarital sexual attitudes and contraceptive knowledge. ^

Subject Area

Educational psychology

Recommended Citation

Treboux, Dominique Anne, "The relative influence of parents and peers on adolescent sexual behavior and contraceptive use as a function of age in adolescence" (1989). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI8918647.
https://fordham.bepress.com/dissertations/AAI8918647

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