Social Cognitive Processes Mediating the Relationship Between Exposure to Television's Sexual Content and Adolescents' Sexual Behavior

by Steven Martino, Rebecca L. Collins, David E. Kanouse, Marc N. Elliott, Sandra H. Berry

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This study used multiple-group structural equation modeling to test a model explaining the association between exposure to televised sexual content and initiation of intercourse among an ethnically diverse national sample of 1,292 adolescents. The authors hypothesized, on the basis of social-cognitive theory, that exposure to televised sexual content would influence adolescents’ safe-sex self-efficacy, sex-related outcome expectancies, and perceived peer norms regarding sex, and that each of these would, in turn, influence intercourse initiation. Findings support a model in which the relationship between exposure to TV’s sexual content and intercourse initiation is mediated by safe-sex self-efficacy among African Americans and Whites but not among Hispanics. Outcome expectancies and perceived peer norms may also mediate the link between exposure and intercourse initiation among all 3 racial/ethnic groups, although evidence of this could not be confirmed.

Reprinted with permission from Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, Vol. 89, No. 6, Dec. 2005, pp. 914-924. Copyright © 2005 American Psychological Association.

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Originally published in: Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, Vol. 89, No. 6, Dec. 2005, pp. 914-924.

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