Penn State Researchers Say Body Image Influences Sexual Risks by Men, Women

Diverse Issues in Higher Education, April 6, 2006 | Go to article overview

Penn State Researchers Say Body Image Influences Sexual Risks by Men, Women


COLLEGE PARK, PA.

According to a recent study by researchers at Pennsylvania State University, a positive body image plays a significant role in the sexual decisions men and women make. The study, which surveyed 434 first-year students at the university, found that men who approved of their physical appearance were more likely to have multiple sexual partners and engage in risky behavior like unprotected sex. Women who had a positive body image displayed the opposite reaction, and were less likely to engage in such risky behavior.

"These findings suggest that programs that focus on improving young women's attitudes toward their body could also help to promote healthy sexuality," says Dr. Eva S. Lefkowitz, an associate professor of human development and family studies and an author of the study. "However, programs designed to promote positive body image among young men should also include content to help them develop healthy sexual attitudes and respect for women."

The study, "Does Body Image Play a Role in Risky Sexual Behavior and Attitudes?" appears in the February issue of the Journal of Youth and Adolescence. Just over half of the 434 students surveyed were female, and 39 percent of the students were White. Thirty-two percent of the students were Black and 29 percent were Hispanic. Fifty-eight percent said they were sexually active. …

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Penn State Researchers Say Body Image Influences Sexual Risks by Men, Women
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