Psychometric Properties of the Sexual Attitudes Scale in a Sample of Unmarried Chinese Young Adults
He, Shanshan, Tsang, Sandra, Zou, Hong, Wu, Yibo, The Journal of Sex Research
One-fourth of the world's population lives in China and Chinese society is changing rapidly, including the attitudes of Chinese adults toward human sexuality. According to Ruan (1991), China actually has a long history of sexological exploration, and there is an abundance of relevant literature and art. For the first 4,000 years of Chinese history, the people of China adopted the philosophy ofyin yang and held very open and positive attitudes toward human sexuality, regarding it as a natural phenomenon in human life. However, the situation has changed in the past 1,000 years and, due to sexual oppression, the sexual attitudes of Chinese people have become more conservative (Ruan, 1991). Today, with China's economic reforms and development, Western culture has pervaded the country, and Western attitudes toward sexuality are particularly influential on the younger generation. Young people are curious about, and are quick to explore and even accept, new things. As a result of the one-child policy that was introduced in China at the end of the 1970s, most Chinese young people have grown up in single-child families. This one-child policy, together with traditional opinions that give preference to male offspring, and the misuse of prenatal screening to determine the gender of the fetus, have led to a serious imbalance in the sex ratio in China; in 2007, the ratio was reported as 120.2:100 (National Bureau of Statistics of China, 2007).
Global social problems, such as sexually transmitted infections (STI) and teenage pregnancies, are also great challenges in contemporary China (Gu & Renwick, 2008; Ji, Li, Lin, & Sun, 2007; Wang, 2007; Watts, 2008). In 2005, there were 650,000 people with HIV living in China, and the Chinese government has pledged to keep the total figure under 1.5 million by 2010 (Gu & Renwick, 2008). According to the latest statistical report from the Chinese Ministry of Health (Ministry of Health of the People's Republic of China, 2008), in August 2008 the death rate from AIDS was still the highest (400 deaths, about 40%, out of 1,156 patients) among the 27 notifiable diseases. It is well-known that STIs, especially HIV, can be passed on by casual unprotected sex and having sex with individuals who are unaware of their STI or HIV status. The sexual attitudes and behavior of the younger generation, who are the future leaders of China, will have a substantial impact on future generations. Therefore, it is important to study the sexual attitudes of China's younger generation, as these have an influential bearing on their sexual behavior.
Studies of the Sexual Attitudes of Young Adults in Contemporary China
From 1949 to 1979, the study of sexuality in China was "in a phase of budding" (Deng, 2008, p. 6). Little valid data from empirical studies regarding the views of Chinese people on their sexuality and their sexual attitudes existed. Since the 1980s, sexological research in China has flourished in different fields including medicine, law, sexology, and sociology (Pei, Ho, & Ng, 2007). Sexual attitudes have been widely investigated in the different provinces of mainland China (Fan, Zhou, & Li, 2000; Hu, Liu, & Tang, 2001; Li et al., 2003; Xu, Shao, & Zhang, 2004; Yu & Zhao, 2004), in Hong Kong (HK Tertiary Institutions Health Care Work Group, 2002), and in several nationwide surveys (Liu, Ng, & Chou, 1995; Pan, 2000, 2004, 2006). Most of these indigenous studies about the sexual attitudes of young adults used samples of college students and investigated their attitudes toward premarital sex, chastity, masturbation, homosexuality, multiple sexual partners, and premarital cohabitation (Higgins & Sun, 2007).
These studies have contributed to the knowledge of human sexuality in China and have provided a fruitful context for further relevant research in this field. Of particular note is the work of two important scholars in China, Dalin Liu and Pan Suiming, who, in collaboration with colleagues, have conducted nationwide surveys of the sexual attitudes and behavior of Chinese people since the 1990s, and also undertook longitudinal studies to collect relevant data in 1991, 1995, 1997, 2001, and 2006 (Liu et al. …