The Casual Sex Trajectories of Adolescents and Young Adults: A Growth Curve Analysis

Heidi Lyons, Bowling Green State University
Wendy D. Manning, Bowling Green State University
Peggy C. Giordano, Bowling Green State University
Monica A. Longmore, Bowling Green State University

Extensive research has examined adolescent and young adult sexual experience with growing attention to casual sexual activity. However, prior studies have relied on college-based samples, ignoring the experiences of sixty percent of young adults. We contribute to prior work by using longitudinal data from a broad sample of teens and young adults (N=845). Using growth curve analysis we determine male and female casual sex trajectories. We find that by age 23, three-quarters of young adults have had a casual sex partner and on average they have had two casual sex partners. At age 15, males and females are equally likely to have had casual sex; however, males increase their number of casual sex partners at a significantly faster rate than females. We find alcohol use, peer influence, and liberal sex attitudes are significantly related to casual sex activity for both males and females and the influence of these covariates increases with age.

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Presented in Session 95: Romantic and Sexual Relationships