Date of Award
Doctor of Philosophy
This dissertation reports on three studies which examined correlates of number of sexual partners and of motivations underlying the decision to have sexual intercourse with a new partner among heterosexually experienced undergraduate women. In Study One (N = 117), women's reports of a greater number of sexual partners were associated with liberal attitudes, erotophilia, more frequent masturbation, lower romantic relationship satisfaction, and a self-gratification orientation to sexual decision making, as measured by the Sexual Decision Making Scale (SDMS), developed for this research. In Study Two (N = 238), women's reports of a greater number of sexual partners were associated with liberal attitudes, higher drug and alcohol consumption, greater popularity, and lower romantic relationship satisfaction. Factor analysis of the SDMS identified two factors which were labelled "Positive Sexuality" and "Deficit Sexuality." Items loading on Positive Sexuality described motives for sexual intercourse which were related to sexual enjoyment and positive affect, and greater endorsement of these items was associated with variables indicating a dimension of unconventionality, and was unrelated to adjustment variables. Items loading on Deficit Sexuality described motives for sexual intercourse which were related to fear of rejection and loneliness, and greater endorsement of these items was associated with poorer object relations, lower well-being, and lower romantic relationship satisfaction, and was unrelated to conventionality. In Study Three (N = 254), the factor structure identified in Study Two was replicated on an expanded version of the SDMS. High scores on Positive Sexuality again correlated with variables suggesting a dimension of unconventionality, and greater sexual interest, and were, again, uncorrelated with adjustment variables. High scores on Deficit Sexuality were associated with poor object relations, having an anxious-ambivalent attachment style, poorer well-being, and conservative attitudes. It was concluded that the type of motivation underlying the decision to have sexual intercourse with a new partner was more predictive of psychological adjustment than is number of sexual partners. Implications of these qualitatively different motivations are discussed.
Houston, Sandra Marie, "A Two-factor Model Of Women's Sexual Decision-making" (1996). Digitized Theses. 2613.