Contributions of divergent peer and parent sexual messages to Asian American college students' sexual behaviors

J Sex Res. 2014;51(2):208-20. doi: 10.1080/00224499.2012.721099. Epub 2013 Jan 10.


Receiving more parent sexual communication is generally linked to a later age of first sexual intercourse and less sexual risk taking. However, Asian American youth report minimal parent sexual communication, later sexual initiation, and fewer sexual risks than their counterparts. What contributes to this unexpected pattern of sexual communication and sexual behaviors? To answer this question, we surveyed 312 Asian American college students ages 17 to 22 on their sexual behaviors, parent sexual communication, and peer sexual communication. Assessment of parent and peer sexual communication was completed via a measure in which participants rated the frequency with which they had received each of 22 sexual messages from each source. Young women generally received more messages promoting abstinence, traditional sex roles, and sex within a relational context than their male counterparts. Young men, however, reported greater parent and peer communications that were accepting of casual sex. Exposure to peer messages that were accepting of casual sex was associated with more sexual partners, casual sex encounters, and sexual experience. Being older, being raised outside the United States, being less religious, and being homosexual was each predictive of more sexual experience. Implications regarding the role of culture and gender on sexual socialization are discussed.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Asian / ethnology*
  • Communication
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Parents / psychology*
  • Peer Group*
  • Sexual Behavior / ethnology*
  • Students / psychology*
  • United States / ethnology
  • Universities
  • Young Adult