Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

True love may wait -- but waiting won't make you a safer lover later on

Date:
May 18, 2011
Source:
Association for Psychological Science
Summary:
Whether sex education focuses only on abstinence or teaches students about contraception and other topics as well, it all shares one main message: wait. In abstinence-only, students are exhorted to wait for sex until they're married. In "comprehensive" or "abstinence-plus," the idea is to delay sexual relations until later. "The underlying assumption is that delay reduces sexual risk-taking" -- and with it unwanted pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases -- says a psychologist involved with the research. This assumption has now been challenged.

Whether sex education focuses only on abstinence or teaches students about contraception and other topics as well, it all shares one main message: Wait. In abstinence-only, students are exhorted to wait for sex until they're married. In "comprehensive" or "abstinence-plus," the idea is to delay sexual relations until . . . later.

"The underlying assumption is that delay reduces sexual risk-taking" -- and with it unwanted pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases, says University of South Florida psychologist Marina A. Bornovalova. "If they just wait, then they'll be less likely to have multiple partners or get pregnant early."

"But until now, no one had tested this assumption."

Bornovalova and her colleagues -- Brooke M. Huibregtse, Matt McGue, and William Iacono of University of Minnesota and Brian Hicks of the University of Michigan -- tested it. Their finding, published in an upcoming issue of Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science, should spark serious rethinking wherever sex educators are seeking the facts as their guide.

Yes, there's a correlation between early sexual initiation (this study defined this as 16 or younger) and later sexual risk-taking. But, as a causal factor for sexual risk-taking -- multiple partners, drug and alcohol use during sexual encounters, or unprotected intercourse -- "it doesn't really matter whether you delay sex or not."

The researchers looked at more than 1,000 pairs of identical and fraternal twins enrolled in the longitudinal Minnesota Twin Family Study (MTFS). These twins, aged 11, upon the time of enrollment, were questioned on biological, social, and psychological factors, from parental drug use to age of puberty to friendliness. Then, at age 24, they were asked about the risks they were taking in their sex lives. In some pairs, one twin had early sex and the other didn't -- and the two twins were compared on their sexual risk-taking in adulthood.

Numerous runs of the data led to the same conclusion: "You take two twins who share 100 percent of their genes. One has sex at 15 and one at 20. You compare them on risk-taking at 24 -- and they don't differ."

So why does someone end up sexually promiscuous? The researchers think it's a combination of genetic factors -- such as the strong inherited tendency to be impulsive or anti-social -- and environmental ones, such as poverty or troubled family life.

Most important, though -- biology and life experience both give rise to early sexual initiation and risk-taking later on. The former does not cause the latter. The psychologists aren't advocating sex at a very early age; it very well might have other harmful effects on a teenager, such as depression or poor school performance. "But if our goal is to reduce sexual risk-taking, we need to be focusing on something else," says Bornovalova. More study is needed to zero in on what that something else is. But for now, one thing should be clear to the people writing sex ed curricula: "Whatever is causing sexual risk-taking, it is not early sexual initiation."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Association for Psychological Science. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Association for Psychological Science. "True love may wait -- but waiting won't make you a safer lover later on." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 18 May 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/05/110517132632.htm>.
Association for Psychological Science. (2011, May 18). True love may wait -- but waiting won't make you a safer lover later on. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 31, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/05/110517132632.htm
Association for Psychological Science. "True love may wait -- but waiting won't make you a safer lover later on." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/05/110517132632.htm (accessed July 31, 2014).

Share This




More Health & Medicine News

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Health Insurers' Profits Slide

Health Insurers' Profits Slide

Reuters - Business Video Online (July 30, 2014) Obamacare-related costs were said to be behind the profit plunge at Wellpoint and Humana, but Wellpoint sees the new exchanges boosting its earnings for the full year. Fred Katayama reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Concern Grows Over Worsening Ebola Crisis

Concern Grows Over Worsening Ebola Crisis

AFP (July 30, 2014) Pan-African airline ASKY has suspended all flights to and from the capitals of Liberia and Sierra Leone amid the worsening Ebola health crisis, which has so far caused 672 deaths in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. Duration: 00:43 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
At Least 20 Chikungunya Cases in New Jersey

At Least 20 Chikungunya Cases in New Jersey

AP (July 30, 2014) At least 20 New Jersey residents have tested positive for chikungunya, a mosquito-borne virus that has spread through the Caribbean. (July 30) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Xtreme Eating: Your Daily Caloric Intake All On One Plate

Xtreme Eating: Your Daily Caloric Intake All On One Plate

Newsy (July 30, 2014) The Center for Science in the Public Interest released its 2014 list of single meals with whopping calorie counts. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

    Environment News

    Technology News



      Save/Print:
      Share:

      Free Subscriptions


      Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

      Get Social & Mobile


      Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

      Have Feedback?


      Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
      Mobile: iPhone Android Web
      Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
      Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
      Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins