Identity, Peer Context and Adolescent Girls' Sexual Behavior

Heidi Lyons, Bowling Green State University

The sexual double standard suggests that females have a higher social cost for their sexual behavior compared to males. The current paper investigates possible social costs for adolescent girls relating to the number of sexual partners they have. To address the research question two waves of data of adolescent girls collected for the Toledo Adolescent Relationship Study is utilized. The data are comprised of 600 quantitative interviews and 51 in-depth interviews. Results show that young girls that have a higher number of sex partners do not have negative identity constructs or lower peer acceptance. Further, young women with a higher number of sex partners are embedded in friend networks that they perceive support such behavior. Qualitative interviews show that the sexual double standard may exist on an abstract level but may not influence personal behavior as previously suggested in the literature.

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Presented in Poster Session 6