Examining the Link Between Sexual Self-Concept and Sexual Communication among Adolescents

Commun Q. 2021;69(5):525-543. doi: 10.1080/01463373.2021.1969585. Epub 2021 Sep 1.


The purpose of this study was to move beyond a sexual risk framework to investigate the possible associations among three sex-positive constructs for adolescents: their sexual self-concept (i.e., their positive/negative feelings about themselves as sexual beings), their sexual communication with romantic/sexual partners, and their sexual communication self-efficacy. We also examined differences in these constructs by sexual intercourse experience and gender. Participants were 171 adolescents who had been in a dating or sexual relationship in the past year (M age=16.32 years; 64.3% girls). Compared to girls, boys had more positive sexual self-concepts but less self-efficacy to communicate with their partners about sex. Adolescents who reported having had sexual intercourse had more positive sexual self-concepts as well as more frequent partner sexual communication compared to adolescents without sexual intercourse experience. Adolescents with a more positive sexual self-concept had higher sexual communication self-efficacy and reported more frequent sexual communication. In addition, sexual communication self-efficacy partially mediated the relationship between sexual self-concept and sexual communication. Results highlight the connection between sexual self-concept and sexual communication and contribute to a growing body of work on the positive aspects of adolescent sexuality.

Keywords: adolescence; sex-positive; sexual communication; sexual health; sexual self-concept.