Factors involved in premarital sexual decision-making

F. Scott Christopher, Rodney M. Cate

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

41 Scopus citations


Premarital sexual decision-making in a sample of 434 college students was examined. The purposes of the study were (a) to determine the factors that individuals used in their decision to first have intercourse with a particular partner; (b) to compare males and females on the relative importance of derived factors in decision-making; and (c) to compare individuals with differing levels of sexual experience on the derived decision factors. Data were collected via questionnaires, and the items were factor analyzed to uncover underlying factors in the decision to have intercourse. The results revealed four basic factors: Positive Affect/Communication, Obligation/Pressure, Arousal/Receptivity, and Circumstantial. Analyses of variance showed that females considered Positive Affect/Communication to be slightly more important than males, whereas males considered Obligation/Pressure to be slightly more important in their decision. In addition, those with more prior sexual experience considered Positive Affect/Communication less than others, but saw Arousal/Receptivity as more important than did those with less sexual experience. The underlying factors closely parallel the variables shown by other researchers to be covariates of premarital sexual experience. Longitudinal assessment of sexual decision-making is recommended to reveal a clearer picture of this important process.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)363-376
Number of pages14
JournalThe Journal of Sex Research
Issue number4
StatePublished - Nov 1 1984

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Gender Studies
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • General Psychology
  • History and Philosophy of Science


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