Short-Term Consequences of Sex: Contextual Predictors and Change Across College

Rose Wesche, Eva S. Lefkowitz, Jennifer L. Maggs

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Although sexual experiences are normative by young adulthood, individuals continue to explore and develop their sexual behaviors and cognitions across the college years. Thus, perceived consequences of sexual experiences may change. Similarly, characteristics of sexual experiences such as partner type, alcohol use, and sexual behavior type predict perceived consequences, and these associations may change over time. In this study, we addressed links between characteristics of sexual experiences (casual vs. committed partner, heavy alcohol use on sex days, and kissing/touching only vs. oral/penetrative sex) and short-term perceived consequences of sexual experiences (physical satisfaction, emotional intimacy, not satisfied, guilt, not ready), using daily data collected longitudinally across seven college semesters. We also examined whether perceived consequences of sex change across college and whether within-person daily associations between sexual experience characteristics and perceived consequences of sex change across college. An ethnically and racially diverse sample of traditionally aged first year university students (N = 566; 54% female; 98% heterosexual) completed online surveys, yielding 8,838 daily reports about sexual behaviors. Multilevel models indicated that partner type, heavy alcohol use, and sexual behavior type predicted within-person differences in perceived consequences of sex. Interactions between characteristics of sexual experiences and college semester indicated that differences in perceived consequences of sexual experiences with casual versus committed partners lessened over time. The likelihood of reporting physical satisfaction and guilt after only kissing/touching (but not oral/penetrative sex) decreased across college semesters. Findings inform understanding of normative sexual development by demonstrating that perceived consequences and their predictors change across time.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1613-1626
Number of pages14
JournalArchives of Sexual Behavior
Volume50
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - May 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Psychology(all)

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