Document Type

Dissertation

Department

Psychology

First Advisor's Name

Wendy K. Silverman

First Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Chair

Second Advisor's Name

James Jaccard

Second Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Chair

Third Advisor's Name

Maureen C. Kenny

Fourth Advisor's Name

William M. Kurtines

Keywords

Adolescent sexual behavior, Adolescent romantic relationships, Pubertal development, Adolescent-Maternal relationship, Perceived pubertal development, Adolescent depression

Date of Defense

7-24-2009

Abstract

This study examined links between adolescent depressive symptoms, actual pubertal development, perceived pubertal timing relative to one’s peers, adolescent-maternal relationship satisfaction, and couple sexual behavior. Assessments of these variables were made on each couple member separately and then these variables were used to predict the sexual activity of the couple. Participants were drawn from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health (Add Health; Bearman et al., 1997; Udry, 1997) data set (N = 20,088; aged 12-18 years). Dimensions of adolescent romantic experiences using the total sample were described and then a subsample of romantically paired adolescents (n = 1,252) were used to test a risk and protective model for predicting couple sexual behavior using the factors noted above. Relevant measures from the Wave 1 Add Health measures were used. Most of the items used in Add Health to assess romantic relationship experiences, adolescent depressive symptoms, pubertal development (actual and perceived), adolescent-maternal relationship satisfaction, and couple sexual behavior were drawn from other national surveys or from scales with well documented psychometric properties. Results demonstrated that romantic relationships are part of most adolescents’ lives and that adolescents’ experiences with these relationships differ markedly by age, sex, and race/ethnicity. Further, each respective couple member’s pubertal development, perceived pubertal timing, and maternal relationship satisfaction were useful in predicting sexual risk-promoting and risk-reducing behaviors in adolescent romantic couples. Findings in this dissertation represent an initial step toward evaluating explanatory models of adolescent couple sexual behavior.

Identifier

FI09082403

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