Adolescent sexual attitudes and behavior: are they consistent?

L. S. Zabin, M. B. Hirsch, E. A. Smith, J. B. Hardy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

59 Scopus citations


Relationships between sexual attitudes and behavior among adolescents were studied in data collected by self-administered questionnaires from approximately 3,500 junior and senior high school students attending four inner-city schools during 1981-1982. An analysis of the results by sex, race and age found that 83 percent of sexually experienced adolescents cite a best age for first intercourse that is older than the age at which they themselves experienced that event, and 43 percent of them report a best age for first coitus older than their current age. In addition, 88 percent of young women who have had a baby say the best age at which to have a first birth is older than the age at which they first became mothers. Thirty-nine percent of the women and 32 percent of the men say that they believe premarital sex is wrong. Among those who are virgins, the proportions are much higher. However, even among those who have had intercourse, approximately 25 percent of both sexes say they believe sex before marriage is wrong. Women desire stronger relationships before having intercourse than do men, and women claim to have had a stronger relationship with their last sexual partner. Very few teenagers believe neither partner is responsible for pregnancy prevention, which tends to be viewed as a joint responsibility. Those who see it as a shared responsibility are slightly more likely than those who assign the responsibility to one or the other partner to have used a method at last intercourse, and they are considerably more likely to have used a method than are those who believe contraception is neither partner's responsibility.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)181-185
Number of pages5
JournalFamily Planning Perspectives
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 1 1984

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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