Date of Award

2017

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

School

School of Education

Program

Counseling Psychology, Ph.D.

First Advisor

Carole Woolford-Hunt

Second Advisor

Brad Hinman

Third Advisor

Jimmy Kijai

Abstract

Purpose

Sexual knowledge is important for healthy development of adolescents and adults. Currently, there is no consistent mode of introducing the topic of sex to an individual who has not previously learned about the topic. If a shift were to occur in transmission of sexual knowledge, whether by creating a consistent mode, a culture-specific mode, or focusing on sexual attitude rather than behavior, future populations would be positively influenced. If the educational system, religious organizations, and families could be informed of an appropriate and meaningful way to communicate sexual knowledge to adolescents, negative sexual outcomes have the potential to decrease and positive sexual outcomes have the potential to increase.

Method

Participants completed surveys that measured a) attitudes toward sex, b) source of sexual knowledge and influence of the source, and c) demographic information. This work employed several statistical analysis methods to answer the six research questions that guided the study. These methods included exploratory factor analysis (EFA), descriptive statistics, independent sample t-tests, one-way ANOVA, chi-square and canonical correlation.

Results

Results indicate that several of the most identified sources of sexual knowledge included school-based sexual education, parents or primary caregivers, media, internet pornography, SEEM, and friends or peers. Sources that were considered influential included parent or primary caregivers, doctors or other healthcare professionals, internet pornography, media, and friends or peers. The sexual attitudes of participants ranged from neutral (Permissiveness and Instrumentality) to moderate agreement with (Communion and Birth Control). Statistically significant differences were noted when looking at ethnicity and sources of sexual knowledge, religious affiliation during formative years and sources of sexual knowledge, gender and some sources of sexual knowledge, gender and sexual attitude, and religious affiliation during formative years and sexual attitude. Lastly, less engagement with any source of sexual knowledge indicated higher agreement with sexual attitudes of Permissiveness, Birth Control, Communion, and Instrumentality.

Conclusions

This study added to the body of literature concerning how individuals learn about sex, provided a picture of sexual attitudes among a diverse group of 18-30 year old participants, and highlighted the importance of considering cultural background in attainment of sexual knowledge and sexual attitude formation. As researchers, educators, mental health professionals, and lay people better understand sexuality and sexual attitudes, they will be better able to serve the people they encounter. The current research offers several implications for professional practice and future research.

Subject Area

Sex instruction, Sexology--Research

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