Author: Shayna Skakoon-Sparling & Kenneth M. Cramer
Abstract: The current study applied reversal theory to better understand the motivational factors that influence sexual health decision-making during condom negotiation among young men and women. Participants (N = 440) read a vignette describing a romantic sexual encounter with a hypothetical new partner and answered embedded questions related to their attitudes and behavioral intentions. Participants who were experiencing a stronger goal-oriented (telic) state showed a more risk adverse response pattern: they perceived unprotected sex as posing a greater risk and were more likely to refuse to have unprotected sex in the hypothetical encounter. Participants who were experiencing a stronger conformist state also responded in a more risk adverse pattern: they showed a greater interest in using a condom, were more likely to initiate condom negotiation, and were less willing to agree to have unprotected sex in the hypothetical scenario. The findings of the current study also suggest that the rules domain may function based on established societal norms rather than situational norms, since the social pressure of the hypothetical scenario could have encouraged more conformist individuals to adhere to the hypothetical partner’s wishes to engage in unprotected sex. The findings of current study demonstrate the utility of reversal theory and suggest that incorporating the influence of meta-motivational states into sexual risk-taking models will allow for a deeper understanding of why individuals choose to engage in behaviors that put their sexual health at risk which, in turn, will inform future interventions to encourage protective behaviors.
Link to Article: 2018-v7-01-Skakoon-Sparling-etal.pdf