2006 Student Research Conference:
19th Annual Student Research Conference

Social Science

Risk Perception and Behavior: Is There Consistency?
Kathryn S. Gallaher*, Jamie A. Simon, and Amie M. Schlereth
Dr. Judith M. Misale, Faculty Mentor

Although most college students today possess knowledge regarding safe sexual practices, the incidence of sexually transmitted infections remains high. This research assessed discrepancies between students’ perception of risk and their actual behavior. Male and female undergraduates, half responding from their own perspective and half reporting from the perspective of most young adults, first estimated the general and personal risks associated with STIs. They then rated same and opposite sex friends’ control in sexual situations (i.e., ability to influence partners to use condoms), personal sexual control, and the importance of such control. Later they estimated the percentage of sexually active American young adults who use condoms consistently and correctly, then reported/estimated percentages of condom use during sexual intercourse and percentage of unprotected sex across both perspectives (self/most young adults). Results suggested inconsistencies between students’ perceptions and their behavior that increased their sexual risk. Self-Most perspective differences supported this interpretation.

Keywords: sex, risk, control

Topic(s):Psychology

Presentation Type: Oral Paper

Session: 55-5
Location: VH 1010
Time: 3:45

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