Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository

Degree

Doctor of Philosophy

Program

Psychology

Supervisor

Dr. William Fisher

Abstract

This study examined the utility of a dyadic approach to the study of condom use in intimate relationships. The vast majority of research regarding risky or safer sexual behavior has focused on individual-level models for the prediction of behavior without considering the interpersonal context in which sexual decision-making and sexual behavior occur. A consideration of HIV/STI preventive behavior in the context of relationships is essential, as intimate relationships represent an often unrecognized source of HIV/STI risk. Traditional theories of health behavior such as the theory of reasoned action and the theory of planned behavior have proven fairly successful in predicting HIV/STI preventive behavior among individuals, but when considering decisions made or influenced by two partners who may have differing attitudes or beliefs, more complex analyses are necessary. The structural model under investigation allows assessment of influences of relationship partners’ characteristics on their own and their partners’ condom-use intentions, as well as the moderating influences of individual and relationship characteristics on these relations. Both partners from 124 heterosexual couples independently completed an online questionnaire assessing a variety of sex- and relationship-relevant variables. Data were analyzed using structural equation modeling and dyadic data analysis. Results demonstrated the superiority of a dyadic approach to the study of couples’ condom-use intentions and behavior over traditional, individual-level approaches. Dyadic analyses allowed for the simultaneous modeling of both partners’ influences on their own and each other’s condom-use intentions and on couples’ shared condom-use behavior. Implications for safer sex intervention efforts targeted to men and women are discussed.


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