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Book Chapter

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Sexuality in Emerging Adulthood


Researchers, parents, and adolescents recognize that peers are central to adolescent development (e.g., Waldrip, Malcolm, & Jensen-Campbell, 2008) and often influence sexual activity (e.g., Dishion, Ha, & Veronneau, 2012). Yet, despite this abundance of evidence, several questions remain. First, most research has explored the influence of peers during adolescence in predicting sexual behaviors. Much less has examined whether and to what extent peers affect emerging adults' sexual behaviors both long term and contemporaneously (see Chapter 9, this volume). Second, of that research which does include an examination of peer influence on sexual activity among emerging adults, the issue of whether and how peer relationships influence sexual behaviors among individuals in committed relationships, while also accounting for characteristics of these intimate relationships, has yet to be examined. Finally, much of the literature on peer effects and sexual activity tends to be atheoretical. As such, it is difficult to determine the underlying mechanisms that account for these associations. To fill these gaps, we focused on how peers criminal activity, provision of emotional support, and permissive sexual attitudes and behaviors influenced emerging adults' involvement in sexually non-exclusive behaviors, number of casual sex partners, and lifetime number of sex partners. These sexual behaviors have potential to influence the development and maintenance of committed intimate partnerships in emerging adulthood and beyond.

Grant Information

This research received support from The Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (HD036223) and the Center for Family and Demographic Research, Bowling Green State University, which has core funding from The Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (R24HD050959- 01). The opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official views of the National Institutes of Health.




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