Adolescents' Perceptions of Peer and Parent Responses to Adolescent Sexuality
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Publisher:The Ohio State University
Series/Report no.:The Ohio State University. Department of Psychology Honors Theses; 2010
Adolescents’ sexuality is not well understood in society today. Little research has explored the relationship between adolescents’ sexual behavior and their perception of their parents’ and peers’ attitudes toward sexuality. Therefore, exploring the association between adolescents’ sexual behavior and the influences parent and peer attitudes have on adolescents’ sexual behavior is important. Further understanding adolescents’ sexual behavior decisions and perceptions as related to sexuality can give society a larger understanding of this sensitive issue. Research oriented to this age group can therefore affect sexual education policies in schools and impact general societal knowledge and understanding. The current study examined adolescents’ sexual behavior and their perceptions of their parents’ and peers’ approval or disapproval of their involvement in sexual intercourse. Participants included 50 Ohio State psychology students between the ages of 17 and 19. This study looked at the relationship and differences between virgin and non-virgin perceptions of punishment and disappointment relating to sexual intercourse involvement. Hypothetical and actual perceptions that adolescents’ hold about their sexual behaviors was further studied and compared between virgin and non-virgin adolescents. Whether the adolescents had a talk with their parent(s) about contraception methods was also compared between participants. The results confirmed the hypothesis that both parents and peers affect adolescents’ sexual behaviors. Additionally, it was discovered that adolescents’ perceptions of their friends’ sexual behaviors influence individual behavior. Moreover, expected punishment and disappointment from parents influenced adolescent sexual behavior; if an adolescent expects that their parents will be disappointed, the adolescent is less likely to engage in sexual behavior. Further hypotheses were confirmed. If adolescents perceive their closest friends to be sexually active, the adolescent is more likely to be sexually active as well. Additionally, if the adolescent has spoken with their parents about sexual contraception, the adolescent perceives their parent to be less disappointed in sexual behaviors.
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