A few weeks ago I described our recent paper that examined when college students do and don’t invoke the sexual double standard to make judgments about people’s motivations for sex. Today I’m writing about another sexual double standard paper with a younger (11 – 16 years old) sample and focused on sexual behavior and peer acceptance. In this study, we used a longitudinal network measure of received friendship nominations to examine changes in peer acceptance based on sexual behavior.
In this paper, we demonstrated that, consistent with a traditional sexual double standard, female adolescents who reported having vaginal sex had decreased peer acceptance over time. In contrast, male adolescents who reported having vaginal sex had increased peer acceptance over time. However, these findings did not hold across all sexual behaviors. For instance, the findings for making out showed a reverse double standard. Female adolescents who reported making out (after controlling for sex) had increased peer acceptance over time, whereas male adolescents who reported making out (again, after controlling for having sex) had decreased peer acceptance over time.
Thus, findings support a continued sexual double standard among adolescents. Female adolescents can demonstrate their desirability and promote their popularity to male adolescents by engaging in “light” sexual behaviors, but female adolescents who engage in intercourse risk harming their reputation/peer acceptance. In contrast, male adolescents can display their masculinity by engaging in intercourse, whereas light sexual behaviors do not enhance their acceptance. Overall results suggest that in adolescence, the sexual double standard continues to dictate the implications of sexual behavior for adolescents’ peer relationships.
“The Sexual Double Standard Lives: How Adolescents’ Sexual Behavior Predicts Their Peer Acceptance first appeared on Eva Lefkowitz’s blog on July 3, 2018.”