Sexual attitudes and behavior of students attending a Southwestern university : Relationships with current theory and related prior research



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This investigation was concerned with the sexual attitudes and behavior of college students. Specific areas considered were: (1) Comparisons of students' and reported parents' sexual standards; (2) Familial relationships and students' sexual permissiveness; (3) Relationships between sexual permissiveness and: marital status, children (number and sex), birth order, and parents' marital status; (4) The sexual 'double standard'; (5) Relationships between sexual attitudes and sexual behavior in both sexes; (6) The 'New Impotence' in males and its correlates; (7) Females' 'new' arousal from erotic materials; and (8) Relationships between female orgasmic responsiveness and other factors. Subjects were enrolled in an undergraduate course in Marriage, Family Living, and Sex Education at a Southwestern University. Two questionnaires were administered: the first dealt with sexual attitudes and the second with sexual behavior. The total sample consisted of 603 subjects (275 males and 328 females). Subjects reported more differences than similarities between their own and their parents' sex attitudes. Males perceived their attitudes as closer to those of their fathers, the same being true for females and their mothers. Subjects reporting no similarity between self-parent attitudes usually thought their parents' standards were 'too conservative,' although a surprisingly large number rated, parents as 'about right' in sex attitudes. Subjects reporting similarity between their own and their mothers' sex attitudes were much less permissive in both sex behavior and attitudes when compared with other subjects. There was little relationship between having actually received sex information from parents and similarity with parents' sex attitudes, or sexual permissiveness. Of subjects who had satisfactory discussions of sex with parents, males reported similarity between self and fathers' sex attitudes, while females reported self-mother similarity in attitudes. Subjects who had satisfactory discussions of sex with parents: were less permissive in sex attitudes: and were from families which displayed more overt affection. No relationships were found between such discussions and subjects' behavioral permissiveness or socioeconomic status. There was little relationship between amount of affection in one's family and permissiveness in sex attitudes or behavior. Single and married subjects showed few differences in sex attitudes, while singles were much more permissive in their sex behavior than were marrieds. Of married subjects, males displayed a low relationship between presence of children and permissiveness in sex attitudes or behavior. However, married females with children were more permissive in attitudes and behavior than those without children. Subjects tended to rate their parents as less permissive as the number of children in the family of origin increased. Males showed stronger relationships between sex of children and permissiveness. Males with all boys (vs. all girls) were more permissive in sex attitudes and less permissive in sex behavior.Males displayed stronger relationships between birth-order and sexual permissiveness. They were less permissive in both attitudes and behavior if they were either an only child or the oldest child. A slight tendency was found for subjects to rate their parent(s) as more sexually permissive if widowed, and less permissive if separated or divorced. Subjects who were younger at parents' parting were somewhat less permissive in sex attitudes and behavior than others. On a general level, subjects endorsed a 'transitional' double standard (e.g., coitus acceptable for both sexes, especially if strong affection is present). However, there were also indications of an 'orthodox' double standard (especially for males) when more specific choices (i.e., choice of marital partner) were made. While females were generally less sexually permissive than males, there was almost no sex difference in the relationship between sexual attitudinal and behavioral permissiveness (suggesting a convergence of behavior and attitudes). A higher percentage of males in this sample reported, erectile and ejaculatory impotence than found, by Kinsey. Impotent males as compared, to other males: (1) were somewhat less permissive in attitudes and. behavior; (2) preferred. sexual and marital partners with relatively more experience; (3) reported higher frequencies of sexual intercourse; and (4) reported more unpleasant experiences with sexual intercourse. Compared with Kinsey's results, more females in this sample reported arousal from erotic or pornographic material. Positive relationships were found between females' responsiveness to such material and permissiveness in sexual attitudes and behavior. Females who reached orgasm more frequently in coitus: (1) were older; (2) were from lower socioeconomic classes; (3) had coitus more frequently; (4) reported greater satisfaction with coitus; (5) were from more affectionate families; and (6) were more permissive in their sexual attitudes and behavior.



College students, Sexual behavior