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Chaste, Pure, and Demure Pledges of Sexual Abstinence, Religiosity, and Sexual Behaviors in Adolescent Romantic Relationships University of Tennessee Catherine.

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Presentation on theme: "Chaste, Pure, and Demure Pledges of Sexual Abstinence, Religiosity, and Sexual Behaviors in Adolescent Romantic Relationships University of Tennessee Catherine."— Presentation transcript:

1 Chaste, Pure, and Demure Pledges of Sexual Abstinence, Religiosity, and Sexual Behaviors in Adolescent Romantic Relationships University of Tennessee Catherine M. Grello Peter T. Haugen Kathryn R. Wilson

2 Introduction/Purpose The Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996 designated over $68 million annually for abstinence-only sexual education programs. Yet, empirical studies have found no or only a highly qualified relationship between adolescents’ participation in such programs and delay in transition to coitus (Bearman & Bruckner, 1999; Wilcox, 1999; Wilcox, Rostosky, & Comer-Wright, 2002). Factors which potentially qualify such a relationship include age of the adolescent and the number of peers in the adolescent’s social context who took the same pledge (Bearman and Bruckner, 1999). Sexual behaviors have been consistently found to be influenced by religiosity (Wilcox, Rostosky, & Comer- Wright, 2002).

3 Abstract Millions of tax dollars are spent annually on abstinence-only sexual education programs. These programs must adhere to strict federal guidelines to qualify for funding. A component of some programs, adolescents may be requested to make a public pledge of sexual abstinence. The efficacy of such programs is not clear. Religiosity has been consistently found to be related with a delay in sexual transition among adolescents. This study expands previous research by focusing on the possible association between participation in abstinence-only sexual education programs, sexual behaviors, and religiosity, in adolescent romantic dyads. We found that when both couple members pledge abstinence they are less likely to report having engaged in coitus and oral sex. Furthermore, most report engaging in fewer affectionate, intimate, and penetrative sexual behaviors with their partners than couples who did not pledge. For most, the effects of the pledge were moderated by religiosity. Age and gender differences revealed that pledging and religiosity predicted fewer sexual behaviors among females and late adolescents regardless of gender.

4 Measures Pledge  Ever make a pledge of sexual abstinence?  Where did you pledge? Religiosity  4 items measuring religious beliefs, practices, and traditions (  =.73). Sexual Behaviors  Ever intercourse (lifetime and with current partner).  Ever oral sex (lifetime and with current partner.  13 item frequency checklist of various sexual behaviors, scores for affectionate (  =.85), intimate (  =.86, and penetrative behaviors (  =.81) with current partner.

5 Methodology/Participants The data for this project comes from the Study of Tennessee Romantic Relationships (STARR) an NIHCHD funded project. 51 middle adolescent couples’ modal age ♀ =15 and ♂= late adolescent couples’ modal age ♀ =18 and ♂=18. 90% of the sample was Caucasian and ~9% was African American. Middle and late adolescents were examined separately because exploratory chi square revealed a 3-way interaction of age x pledge x sex (Likelihood  2 = probability =.0308).

6 Descriptive: Religious Affiliation Middle Adolescents  Baptist 53%  Catholic 5  Protestant 12  Jewish 0  Church of Christ 11  Other 11  None 8 Late Adolescents  Baptist 46%  Catholic 5  Protestant 21  Jewish 1  Church of Christ 2  Other 16  None 9

7 Abstinence Pledge Middle Adolescent Couples: Neither pledged= 36% She pledged= 27 He pledged = 12 Both pledged = 25 Late Adolescent Couples: Neither pledged= 48% She pledged = 23 He pledged= 11 Both pledged= 18 Couples Intercourse Middle Adolescent Couple = 38.5% Late Adolescent Couples = 61.7%

8 Couple sex x who pledged Middle Adolescents Couple Sex YesNo Who Pledged Neither Pledged She Pledged He Pledged They Both Pledged Count910 % w/in who pledged47.4%52.6% Adj. Residual Count410 % w/in who pledged28.6%71.4% Adj. Residual-.9.9 Count51 % w/in who pledged53.3%16.7% Adj. Residual Count211 % w/in who pledged15.4%84.6% Adj. Residual  2 =9.245, p<.026

9 Couple sex x who pledged Late Adolescents Couple Sex YesNo Who Pledged Neither Pledged She Pledged He Pledged They Both Pledged Count378 % w/in who pledged82.2%17.8% Adj. Residual Count157 % w/in who pledged68.2%31.8% Adj. Residual.6-.6 Count54 % w/in who pledged55.6%44.4% Adj. Residual-.4.4 Count116 % w/in who pledged5.9%94.1% Adj. Residual  2 =31.162, p<.000

10 Religiosity T-test of male partner and female partner’s religiosity revealed that females were significantly more religious than their male partners (p=.006).  When controlling for age, middle adolescent females did not significantly differ from their partners’ religiosity (p=.174). However, late adolescent females continued to report higher levels of religiosity than their male partners (p=.013). A categorical variable was created for high, moderate, and low religiosity. Males and females were examined separately.   2 revealed no significant difference in her religious group and couple sex (F=2.687, p=.261) and his religious group and couple sex (F=1.414, p=.493) for middle adolescent couples.

11 Couple sex x religiosity Late Adolescent Females Couple Sex YesNo Religiosity Low Religiosity Moderate Religiosity High Religiosity Count113 % w/in couple sex 78.6%21.4% Adj. Residual Count328 % w/in couple sex 80%20% Adj. Residual Count1524 % w/in couple sex 38.5%61.5% Adj. Residual  2 =16.361, p<.000

12 Couple sex x religiosity Late Adolescent Males Couple Sex YesNo Religiosity Low Religiosity Moderate Religiosity High Religiosity Count256 % w/in couple sex80.6%19.4% Adj. Residual Count2210 % w/in couple sex 68.8%31.3% Adj. Residual Count1019 % w/in couple sex 34.5%65.5% Adj. Residual  2 =14.507, p=.001

13 Moderation Analyses* Couple Sexual Intercourse Pledge Religiosity Pledge X Religiosity *Gender and age examined separately. abcabc

14 Results of Moderated Regression Analysis Variable ♀  Waldp♂  Waldp age Pledge middle ** late *** *** Religiosity middle late *** *** Interaction middle ** late ***

15 Couple oral sex x pledge No significant differences were found for pledge or religiosity and the prediction of oral sex among middle adolescent females and males.

16 Couple oral sex x who pledged Late Adolescents Couple Oral Sex YesNo Her Ever Pledge Yes Pledged Never Pledged Count1719 % w/in pledged31.5%79.2% Adj. Residual Count375 % w/in pledged68.5%20.8% Adj. Residual Count615 % w/in pledged11.3%62.5% Adj. Residual Count 479 % w/in pledged88.7%37.5% Adj. Residual Her pledge  2 =15.202, p=.000 His pledge  2 =21.815, p=.000 His Ever Pledge Yes Pledged Never Pledged

17 Couple oral sex x religiosity Late Adolescent Females Couple Sex YesNo Religiosity Low Religiosity Moderate Religiosity High Religiosity Count112 % w/in oral sex20.4%8.3% Adj. Residual Count274 % w/in oral sex50%16.7% Adj. Residual Count1618 % w/in oral sex29.6%75.0% Adj. Residual  2 =13.936, p<.001

18 Couple oral sex x religiosity Late Adolescent Males Couple Sex YesNo Religiosity Low Religiosity Moderate Religiosity High Religiosity Count243 % w/in oral sex45.3%12.5% Adj. Residual Count206 % w/in oral sex37.7%25.0% Adj. Residual Count915 % w/in oral sex17.0%62.5% Adj. Residual  2 =16.838, p<.000

19 Frequency of sexual behaviors A series of MANOVA’s were performed to assess differences among pledge groups, religiosity, and frequency of affectionate (i.e. kissing, holding hands), intimate (i.e. intimate touching w/w/o clothes), and penetrative behaviors (i.e. oral sex, intercourse) during the previous 30 days. For middle adolescent males and females, no significant differences were found for pledge or religiosity and frequency of affectionate, intimate, or penetrative sexual behaviors.

20 For late adolescent females, pledge (F(9,163) =3.401, p=.001) and religiosity (F(6,134) =2.380, p=.032) were significant. Specifically, late adolescent females who pledge sexual abstinence participate in fewer affectionate (F(3, 92) =4.924, p=.004), intimate (F(3,92) =9.947, p=.000), and penetrative behaviors (F(3,92) =4.018, p=.011) when compared to females who do not pledge. Females with high religiosity report fewer affectionate behaviors (F(3,92)=4.387, p=.016) than those with low or moderate levels of religiosity. For late adolescent males, pledge (F(9,163)=2.740, p=.005) was significant. Late adolescent males who pledge sexual abstinence engage in fewer affectionate (F(3, 92) =4.775, p=.004), intimate (F(3,92) =3.248, p=.027), and penetrative behaviors (F(3,92) =5.311, p=.002) when they are compared to males who do not pledge.

21 Discussion Pledges of sexual abstinence were more powerful couples in which both partners have pledged. When both members pledged the couple was less likely to have engaged in sexual intercourse or oral sex than when one partner or no one pledged. Late adolescents who reported high levels of religiosity were less likely to engage in intercourse or oral sex with their current partner than those with low or moderate levels of religiosity. The effect of pledging was enhanced by strong religious conviction in most adolescents in this sample. Religiosity moderated the power of the pledge for middle adolescent females and late adolescent males. Pledge and religiosity were both significant for late adolescent females; however they worked independently in predicting coitus and oral sex.

22 Late adolescents who pledged sexual abstinence reported engaging in fewer affectionate, intimate, and penetrative sexual behaviors when they were compared to their non- pledging peers. Our results may seem contradictory to Bearman and Bruckner (1999) who found the pledge more effective in delaying sexual transition for younger adolescents. However, Bearman and Bruckner (1999) also found the pledge to be less effective when the pledge is ubiquitous. In this sample, pledging sexual abstinence is fairly common. The ubiquity of the pledge explains our findings for middle adolescents. However, perhaps most interesting is the effect of pledges of abstinence among the late adolescent couples in this sample: for some, the power of the pledge is strengthened by religiosity. We suggest that the pledge itself may serve as a tangible symbol of an adolescents’ internalized beliefs and attitudes toward premarital sexuality. But, those that identify this symbolic aspect of the pledge, are of course in the minority.


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