Volume 3

Factors Affecting Young Adults’ Assessment of Sexual Risks: An Examination of Sexual History and Behavior, Estimation of Risks, and Level of Sensation Seeking

Gloria Stone

The purpose of this study was to examine young adults’ sexual histories and behaviors, estimations of risks, and sensation seeking. Participants included 120 students, 61 men and 59 women. Findings indicated that the majority of students became sexually active by age 15, had only one to two partners prior to college entrance, and tended to underestimate the risks of their own sexual behaviors. Men reported having more partners during the first year of sexual activity than women. However, the genders did not differ in total number of partners, age of sexual activity onset, or sexual high-risk attitudes. Women tended to use contraception more consistently than men. Finally, those students who engaged in early sexual activity scored higher on sexual sensation seeking, and despite the ability to assess sexual risks, reported inconsistent use of condoms compared to those who postponed sex until after age 16. The value of assessing sexual sensation seeking is discussed.

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