Experimentally measured susceptibility to peer influence and adolescent sexual behavior trajectories: A preliminary study

S. Choukas-Bradley, M. Giletta, L. Widman, G.L. Cohen, M.J. Prinstein

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

Abstract

A performance-based measure of peer influence susceptibility was examined as a moderator of the longitudinal association between peer norms and trajectories of adolescents' number of sexual intercourse partners. Seventy-one 9th grade adolescents (52% female) participated in an experimental "chat room" paradigm involving "e-confederates" who endorsed sexual risk behaviors. Changes in participants' responses to risk scenarios before versus during the "chat room" were used as a performance-based measure of peer influence susceptibility. Participants reported their perceptions of popular peers' number of sexual intercourse partners at baseline and self-reported their number of sexual intercourse partners at baseline and 6, 12, and 18 months later. Susceptibility was examined as a moderator of the longitudinal association between perceptions of popular peers' number of sexual intercourse partners and trajectories of adolescents' own numbers of partners. High perceptions of the number of popular peers' sexual intercourse partners combined with high peer influence susceptibility predicted steeper longitudinal trajectories of adolescents' number of partners. Results provide novel preliminary evidence regarding the importance of peer influence susceptibility in adolescents' development of sexual behaviors.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2221-2227
JournalDevelopmental Psychology
Volume50
Issue number9
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2014

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