Influences of culture on Asian Americans' sexuality

J Sex Res. 2002 Feb;39(1):34-41. doi: 10.1080/00224490209552117.


Asian Americans comprise a population group that is characterized by an enormous demographic, historical, and cultural heterogeneity, yet Asian Americans also share many Asian cultural characteristics such as the primacy of the family and the collective's goals over individual wishes, emphasis on propriety and social codes, the appropriation of sexuality only within the context of marriage, and sexual restraint and modesty. Although there are significant gaps in the scientific literature concerning Asian Americans sexuality, the existing data point to notable differences between Asian Americans and other ethnic groups on major aspects of sexual behavior. For example, relative to other U.S. ethnic group cohorts, Asian American adolescents and young adults tend to show more sexually conservative attitudes and behavior and initiate sexual intercourse at a later age. There are indications that as Asian Americans become more acculturated to the mainstream American culture, their attitudes and behavior become more consistent with the White American norm. Consistent with their more sexually conservative tendencies in normative sexual behavior, Asian American women also appear more reluctant to obtain sexual and reproductive care, which in turn places them at a greater risk for delay in treatment for breast and cervical cancer as well as other gynecological problems. Available data suggest that the prevalence rate of sexual abuse in Asian American communities appear lower than those of other groups, although it is not clear to what extent the low rates are due to cultural reluctance to report shameful experiences.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aggression
  • Asian Americans / psychology*
  • Attitude to Health
  • Cultural Characteristics*
  • European Continental Ancestry Group / psychology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Individuality
  • Interpersonal Relations*
  • Male
  • Sex Offenses / ethnology
  • Sexuality / ethnology*
  • Sexuality / psychology
  • Social Values*
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • United States
  • Women's Health