Academic journal article College Student Journal

Social Dating Goals in Female College Students: Failure to Replicate in a Diverse Sample

Academic journal article College Student Journal

Social Dating Goals in Female College Students: Failure to Replicate in a Diverse Sample

Article excerpt

This article reports a failure to replicate aspects of the Social Dating Goals Scale (SDGS; Sanderson & Cantor, 1995) with an ethnically diverse group of female college students. The SDGS was developed and validated with predominantly White samples. In the present study, a diverse sample of 82 Asian, Black, Hispanic and White female college students completed the SDGS, as well as construct validation measures of identity, attachment and sociosexuality, and self-reported dating and sexual behaviors.

The findings for this diverse sample departed from those of the White samples reported earlier. It is suggested that these disparate findings may be due in part to a lack of validity of the ego identity constructs for ethnic minority adolescents as measured by the Revised Ego Identity Status Scale (Bennion & Adams, 1986). Suggestions for the extension of the social dating goals construct to include ethnic minority group members are offered.


Adolescent sexual health is an area that has received much needed research attention. Many adolescents exhibit poor contraceptive practices, which can result in high rates of HIV/AIDs and other STD infection, unplanned pregnancy, and abortion (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 1999). Moreover, women from ethnic minority groups are at far greater risk for these negative health outcomes (Wyatt, 1994). By the year 2030, approximately one third of the resident population will be members of ethnic-minority groups (US Bureau of the Census, 1995), and the field of psychology therefore must make every effort to make their research and practice applicable to all members of society (Ijima-Hall, 1997; Graham, 1992). The American Psychological Association (APA, 1994) notes that because the "appropriate identification of research participants and clientele is critical to the service and practice of psychology ... sample[s] should be adequately described ... and be representative" (p. 13). Although APA doesn't explicitly call for the identification of participants' ethnicity, such reporting seems necessary to demonstrate that the sample is representative. However, research reports that fail to meet these ethically, theoretically, and practically important criteria continue to be published.

In a series of studies, Sanderson and Cantor (1995; 1997) reported on the development and validity of The Social Dating Goals Scale, an instrument that measures the degree to which adolescents' involvement in their dating relationships is in service of intimacy or identity goals. In the scale-development study (1995), the measure exhibited the characteristics of a reliable and valid scale (Study 1), and also proved useful for identifying important differences in the utility of safe-sex education interventions depending on the adolescents' goals (Study 2). The scale differentiates adolescents with predominantly intimacy-related goals, which emphasize "open communication and mutual dependence with a sexual partner" (p. 1122), from those with predominantly identity-related goals, which emphasize "hedonistic exploration and self-reliance in their sexual relationships" (p. 1122). In Study 2, the interaction between dating goals and sex education was examined. It was demonstrated that safe-sex education that emphasizes interpersonal communication with one's partner is more effective for those with intimacy goals, whereas that which emphasizes technical and hedonistic skills in condom use is more effective for those with identity goals. Clearly, then, research using the social dating goals construct has important implications for understanding the relationship between adolescents' stage of ego-identity development and related goals and the likely success of targeted safe-sex education.

As noted in the introduction to this paper, members of some ethnic minority groups are at increased risk for HIV/AIDS infection, and female members of these groups are at increased risk for unplanned pregnancy and abortion. …

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