Permissiveness and Male vs. Female Privileges in Hispanic College Students: Factor Analysis of a Sex Attitudes Scale

Article excerpt

Several studies have looked at sexual behavior of Hispanics (Dantzker & Eisenman, in press; Erkut, Szalacha, Coll, & Alarcon, 2000; Espin, 2003; Fierros & Brown, 2002; Flores, 1992; Pesa & Mathews, 2000; Selik, Castro & Pappaioanou, 1988). Two recent studies of Hispanic college students involved the researchers inventing their own attitude scales to measure sexual attitudes (Dantzker & Eisenman, in press) or high risk behaviors, including sexual behaviors (Fierros & Brown, 2002). In the present study, we report a factor analysis of the Dantzker & Eisenman (in press) 42 item sexual attitudes scale. "Hispanic" is the term most often used here, in deep south Texas, near the Mexican border, where the data were gathered. In other parts of the nation, people often prefer the word "Latino." Factor analysis lets you know what you are really measuring.

Dantzker and Eisenman (in press) found many sex differences on the items, including that the Hispanic males were mostly more permissive about sex than the Hispanic females. This is a typical sex differences found in most studies that contrast males and females (Hendrick & Hendrick, 1999). But, what about other differences, gender or otherwise? Males and females often have different attitudes about sex. Much of it can be explained by evolutionary psychology, which has shown that males and females have different reproductive strategies (Buss, 1999, Pamer & Palmer, 2002, Simpson & Kendrick, 1997). Males would like to impregnate as many partners as possible, to spread their genes into future generations. This is an unconscious desire for most (Eisemnan, 2001). Also, to get partners with good genes, men seek females who ere young, attractive, and in good health. However, since women get pregnant, the male strategy would not work for them. Women are found to seek men who have high status and power, good financial resources, and who will invest in the woman and her offspring.

Thus, evolutionary psychology leads to predictions of differences between men and women in sex attitudes and behaviors. But, what about testing any specific instrument? Dantzker and Eisenman (in press) covered a great deal of territory in the items they made up for their sexual attitudes scale. A factor analysis should give us insights into what is really being measured, and also help us better to understand differences between men and women. Do men and women have different attitudes that prevent or make it very difficult for them to get along with one another?. Is there, thus, a battle of the sexes? Or, do they understand each other and have empathy for the opposite sex? The factor analysis should help us better understand sexual attitudes of college students, and also better understand any differences between the sexes. Because we only had a fairly small number of subjects for this current factor analysis study, this is considered a preliminary study. We plan to use a larger sample in subsequent research.

For those not familiar with factor analysis, the study can be read without reference to the two tables, which appear after the Reference section. For those who know factor analysis, the two tables present a wealth of data that can be examined.

METHOD

A 42-item questionnaire was developed, to reflect a wide range of attitudes about human sexuality. The statements were reviewed by both researchers, as well as by a psychology colleague who specializes in attitudinal research and who had recently completed a study on college students' use of the Internet as it pertains to sex. It was agreed that, on its face, the statements would measure what was being sought, the students' perceptions regarding a variety of sexual activities and behaviors. The statements were set up for response on a Likert scale of one to five (one representing strongly disagree and five strongly agree). A variety of demographic questions were also included. The university's Institutional Review Board (IRB)--Human Subjects in Research, approved our research of sexual attitudes. …