Document Type


Publication Date

Winter 11-8-2016

Journal / Book Title

Journal of School Health



The purpose of the study was to (1) examine attitudes of adolescents toward peer models having sex or choosing abstinence, and (2) determine whether a “double standard” in perception existed concerning adolescent abstinence and sexual behavior.


Adolescents (N = 173) completed questionnaires that included 1 of 6 randomly assigned vignettes that described male and female peer models 3 ways: (1) no information about model's sexual behavior, (2) model in love but choosing abstinence, and (3) model in love and having sex. Participants read the vignette to which they had been assigned and responded to statements about the peer model. Data were analyzed using multivariate analysis of variance.


Results did not show evidence of a sexual double standard among male participants but did show some evidence of a sexual double standard among female participants. Additionally, both male and female participants evaluated more harshly peer models that were having sex than peer models that chose abstinence.


Findings provide insight concerning the lack of a sexual double standard among male participants, the existence, to some degree, of a sexual double standard among female participants, and demonstrate the existence of a social cost to both young men and young women for choosing to have sex.


Published Citation

Young, Michael, Susan Cardenas, Joseph Donnelly, and Mark J. Kittleson. "Perceptions of peer sexual behavior: Do adolescents believe in a sexual double standard?." Journal of school health 86, no. 12 (2016): 855-863.