Hooking-up and condom provision: is there a double standard?
|Abstract:||The purpose of the study was to determine whether a sexual "double standard" existed for casual heterosexual behavior (hooking-up) and condom provision. Participants (n = 500 college students) completed a questionnaire that included one of six vignettes (three vignette types, male or female model). Participants evaluated statements, comprising three scales, about the model depicted in the vignette. Data were analyzed using SAS programs. Male participants showed significant model gender x vignette interaction for all three scales (likeability, positive character, negative behavior). Results for female participants showed no interaction effects. Thus, a sexual double standard was found among male, but not female, participants.|
Penhollow, Tina M.
Bailey, William C.
|Publication:||Name: American Journal of Health Studies Publisher: American Journal of Health Studies Audience: Professional Format: Magazine/Journal Subject: Health Copyright: COPYRIGHT 2010 American Journal of Health Studies ISSN: 1090-0500|
|Issue:||Date: Summer, 2010 Source Volume: 25 Source Issue: 3|
|Product:||Product Code: E197500 Students, College; 3069770 Prophylactics & Diaphragms NAICS Code: 326299 All Other Rubber Product Manufacturing SIC Code: 3069 Fabricated rubber products, not elsewhere classified|
Many college students are engaging in sexual behavior in the
context of what has come to be known as "hooking-up"(Glenn
& Marquardt, 2001; Lambert, Kahn, & Apple, 2003; Paul &
Hayes, 2002; Penhollow, Young, & Bailey, 2007). Though definitions
of the term "hooking-up" have varied by researcher
"(Glenn & Marquardt, 2001; Lambert, et al., 2003: Paul &
Hayes, 2002; Penhollow, et al, 2007), the general idea is a hooking-up
encounter is one in which the participants are strangers, or brief
acquaintances, who participate in sexual activity with little or no
expectation of a future relationship, beyond the current encounter.
Several researchers have reported that a substantial number of college
students have engaged in hooking-up encounters and that many of these
encounters have involved sexual intercourse.
Because a hook-up occurs between people who are strangers or casual acquaintances to each other, with no commitment or attachment, it is a situation that poses substantial risks, including risk for the transmission of sexually transmitted infections (STIs). Consistent use of condoms is an important tool in reducing the risk of HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases/infections (Holmes, Levine, & Weaver, 2004). Thus, encouraging condom use and overcoming real or perceived societal barriers to condom use (e.g. a sexual double standard), is important.
Jonason and Marks (2009) reported in contemporary society it is widely believed that men and women are evaluated differently for engaging in identical and similar levels of sexual activity. Gentry (1998) indicated the "sexual double-standard" refers to the idea that men have more freedom, relative to sexual behavior, than do women, i.e. men who engage in various sexual behaviors are evaluated with more acceptance and tolerance than are women who engage in the same behaviors.
Several studies have been conducted in an attempt to confirm the existence of this sexual double-standard. Some researchers who have addressed the issue of the sexual double-standard have asked participants to evaluate when in a relationship sexual behavior is appropriate (and for whom) (Sprecher, 1989). Other researchers have directly asked study participants whether one gender is judged differently when considering the same sexual behavior (e.g. "Women who have had many sexual partners are judged more harshly than men who have had many sexual partners") (Milhausen & Herold, 1999; Milhausen & Herold, 2001). In other studies, researchers asked study participants to evaluate a male or female model based on the number of sexual partners the model reported (Marks, 2005; Marks & Fraley, 2005) whether the model is in a monogamous relationship, or currently has multiple sexual partners (Gentry, 1998), the model's level of sexual activity (Gentry, 1998), or whether the sexual behavior in question is one that is considered common or one that is perceived to occur less frequently (Jonason & Marks, 2009). Additionally, previous researchers have also examined the double standard in relationship to condom use (Castaneda & Collins, 1998; Hynie & Lyndon, 1995; Kelly & Bazzini, 2001).
Three studies were identified that involved the sexual double-standard and condom provision. In study one, researchers used vignettes to examine whether female study participants evaluated a female model differently based on whether she provided a condom, her male sexual partner provided a condom, or a condom was not used. Participants rated the woman's behavior more negatively and as more inappropriate when she provided the condom than when her male partner provided the condom (Hynie & Lydon, 1995).
Study two was largely a replication of study one, but involved both male and female study participants (Kelly & Bazzini, 2001). When the ratings of male participants and female participants were compared, among those who received the vignette in which the woman provided the condom, male participants thought the man in the vignette would feel better about her. Male participants also thought the woman would feel better about herself (as compared to ratings given by female participants).
In study three researchers used vignettes to examine whether the model who provided a condom (attached to a greeting card) was evaluated differently depending on the gender of the model, the gender of the participant, the theme of the greeting card, and ethnicity of the participant (Castaneda & Collins, 1998). A sexual double-standard was evident in the finding of a significant gender of participant x gender of condom introducer interaction. Male participants rated the female condom introducer higher on the promiscuous scale than did female participants. In all of the vignettes the card included a condom, thus the researchers could not determine whether condom introduction, per se, changed the ratings given the model.
The purpose of the present study was to determine whether a "double standard" exists for sexual behavior in the context of hooking-up and for condom provision in hooking-up situations (i.e. are men and women who are participating in the same sexual and condom provision behaviors evaluated differently relative to selected character traits?). This is important because if women who initiate condom use in hooking-up/casual sex situations are evaluated less favorably than males, this may prove to be a substantial barrier to their use of condoms in such situations. This would place them at increased risk of contracting HIV and/or other sexually transmitted diseases/infections, as well as having an unintended pregnancy.
We hypothesized that: (1) male study participants would evaluate a female model more favorably when they were not provided information regarding her participation in hooking-up sex or her provision of a condom in a hooking-up situation; (2) male study participants would evaluate a male model more favorably when they were provided information indicating the model had participated in sexual intercourse in the context of hooking-up and had provided a condom; (3) female study participants would not evaluate models, for which they were provided information regarding participation in hooking-up sex and condom provision, differentially by gender of the model. In other words we believed male participants would show evidence of a sexual double-standard, but female participants would not.
The participants consisted of a convenience sample of undergraduate students at a large Southeastern university who were taking health education courses. Because the sample is from only one university, some demographic information concerning the general university population may be relevant. The university is a public four-year university, located in the Southeastern United States, with a total enrollment of approximately 17,000. Undergraduates comprise 76% of the enrollment total. Slightly more males (50.4%) than females (49.6%) are enrolled. Caucasian students comprise just over 80% of the enrollment, followed by African Americans (5.7%), with international students, Asian/Pacific Islanders, American Indians, and Hispanics also represented.
In this study we restricted data analysis to undergraduate students who indicated they were single, heterosexual, and under age 25. This resulted in a sample with a greater percentage of females (58.7%) and Caucasian students (83.5%) than the university's general student population.
The testing instrument used in this study was a self-report questionnaire. Each questionnaire included a vignette describing a college student--either a female model "Susan," or a male model "John." There were six different versions of the vignette, three for the male model, three for the female model.
Models were described as follows:
"John is a 21 year old college student. Most people would consider him attractive. He works out regularly and is above average in fitness level. He is a good student (3.7 GPA), does not smoke, and drinks a little socially (he has been drunk once in his life)."
"Susan is a 21 year old college student. Most people would consider her attractive. She works out regularly and is above average in fitness level. She is a good student (3.7 GPA), does not smoke, and drinks a little socially (she has been drunk once in her life)."
Two versions of the vignette ("basic--no mention of sex") contained only the above information. In the two "hooking-up/no mention of condom" versions of the vignette the following information was added: "Last weekend Susan [or John] met a guy [or girl] at a party and before the night was over they had sex." The two "condom provision" vignettes included an additional sentence "Susan [or John] provided the condom."
After reading the version of the vignette on their questionnaire, participants were asked to use a four point Likert-type scale (1 = "strongly agree" to 4 = "strongly disagree") to rate the model (John or Susan) based on twelve statements describing personality and character characteristics. The statements comprised three scales: a likeability scale, a positive character trait scale, and a negative character behavior scale.
The items in the likeability scale were: Susan/ John is--a likeable person, a person with a good sense of humor, an honest person. Possible scores on the scale ranged from 3 to 12, with lower scores indicating greater perceived likeability. The items in the positive character trait scale were: Susan/John is: a responsible person, a dependable person, a trustworthy person, the type of person I would want for my friend, a person with high moral and ethical standards, an honest person. Possible scores on the scale ranged from 6 to 24, with lower scores indicating a more favorable evaluation regarding perceived character traits. The items in the negative behavior scale were: Susan/John--is the type of person who will probably cheat on his/her spouse, is the type of person who will probably embezzle money from his/her employer, would probably cheat on an exam if he/she thought he/she would get a better grade, would probably rob his/her best friend blind if he/ she thought he/she could get away with it. Possible scores on the scale ranged from 4 to 16, with lower scores indicating more negative evaluation regarding negative character behaviors.
Items comprising the three scales were generated by the researchers specifically for this study. Grouping these items in the form of scales, demonstrating that each scale measures a single construct, and using multi-item scales to measure constructs, makes a stronger case for the validity of the instrument than using single items in the analysis.
The study employed a two (model gender) x three (vignette type) factorial, posttest-only design. Participants were randomly assigned to one of the six conditions: (1) female model (Susan), basic description of the model, no mention of sexual behavior, (2) male model (John), basic description of the model, no mention of sexual behavior, (3) female model (Susan), description of the model includes her participation in a hooking-up/casual sex situation, no mention of condom, (4) male model (John), description of the model includes his participation in a hooking-up/casual sex situation, no mention of condom, (5) female model (Susan) description of the model includes her participation in a hooking-up/ casual sex situation and providing a condom, (6) male model (John) description of the model includes his participation in a hooking-up/casual sex situation and providing a condom.
Approval for the study was obtained from the Institutional Review Board. Following approval, students from undergraduate health and wellness classes were recruited to participate in the study. Course instructors agreed to allow the researchers class time to conduct the study.
The six forms of the questionnaire were randomly distributed to students enrolled in college health and wellness classes. Students voluntarily completed questionnaires in their regular classroom setting. Participation rate was 96 percent.
Data were analyzed using SAS programs. Statistical procedures included frequency counts, factor analysis, and 2 x 3 (model x vignette) analysis of variance. Analysis of variance was conducted separately for males and for females for all three scales --likeability, positive character trait, and negative character behavior.
Data were collected from 500 single, college students, under age 25. Females comprised 58.7% of the sample, Caucasians 83.5%.
Confirmatory factor analyses confirmed the existence of three factors: likeability, positive character traits, and negative character behaviors. In each analysis varimax rotation was selected as an option, but since only one factor was present, rotation was not possible. All items, for all three factors, loaded at .762 or above. Items comprising the three factors, along with factor loadings, are shown in Table 1.
ANALYSIS OF VARIANCE--MALES
Results of the analysis of variance for males showed a significant overall F for all three scales. This included positive character (F = 4.7, P = 0.0005), negative character behavior (F = 3.99, P = .0020), and likeability (F = 4.49, P < .0007).
Model x Vignette Interaction Effects. There was a significant (P < .05) model x vignette interaction for all three scales. This included likeability (P = .0001), positive character (P = .0005), and negative character behavior (P = .0081). See Table 2. Because the interaction was statistically significant, the main effects for Model and main effects for Vignette were not examined.
The "Basic/no Mention of Sex" Vignette. For each of the three outcome variables (likeability, positive character traits, and negative character behavior) male participants who received the "no sex" vignette with Susan as the model rated Susan more favorably on all three scales than the ratings given John by participants who received the "no sex" vignette with John as the model.
The "Hooking-up/no Mention of Condom" Vignette. Male participants, who received the hooking up-no mention of condom vignette, with Susan as the model, rated Susan less favorably on all three scales than she had been rated in the "no sex" vignette. Male participants, who received this vignette, with John as the model, rated John more favorably on both the likeability scale and the negative behavior scale than male participants had rated John in the "no sex" vignette. The score given John on the positive character scale was identical with the score participants receiving the vignette with the female model had given Susan. This was a slightly less favorable rating for John from the rating associated with the "no sex" vignette, but a far less favorable rating for Susan than the rating she was given in the "no sex" vignette.
The "Condom Provision" Vignette. Male participants rating John after reading the "condom provision" vignette gave John his most favorable rating. Male participants rating Susan after reading the "condom provision" vignette gave Susan her least favorable rating. This was true across all three scales --likeability, positive character, negative character behavior. See Figures 1, 2, and 3.
The results of the study support both hypothesis 1 (male study participants will evaluate a female model more favorably when they are not provided information regarding her participation in hooking-up sex or her provision of a condom in a hooking-up situation) and hypothesis 2 (male study participants will evaluate a male model more favorably when they are provided information indicating the model had participated in sexual intercourse in the context of hooking-up and had provided a condom. Thus, the results show strong evidence of a sexual double-standard on the part of college males relative to participation in sex, in the context of hooking-up, and provision of a condom in a hooking-up situation.
ANALYSIS OF VARIANCE--FEMALES
Results of the analysis of variance for females showed a significant overall F for all three scales. This included positive character (F = 7.15, P = 0.0001), negative character behavior (F = 5.45, P = .0048), and likeability (F = 4.47, P = .0354). There was no significant (P < .05) model x vignette interaction effects for any of the three scales.
Main Effects for Model. There was also a significant main effect (P < .05) for model (Susan/John) for all three scales (likeability, P = .0354; positive character, P = .0078; negative character behavior, P = .0093). See Table 2. For each of the three outcome variables (likeability, positive character traits, and negative character behavior) when vignette type was not considered, female participants who rated Susan, rated her more favorably than female participants rated John.
Main Effects for Vignette. There was also a significant main effect (P < .05) for vignette, for two of the three scales, positive character (p = .0009) and negative character behavior (P = .0257). For both of these scales, female participants, rating the vignettes without regard to model, rated the no sex vignette more favorably (P < .05) than female participants rating the hooking-up/no mention of condom vignette and females rating the condom provision vignette. There was no difference (P < .05) between the ratings given the hooking up/no mention of condom vignette and the condom provision vignette for any of the three scales.
These results support hypothesis 3 (female study participants will not evaluate models, for which they are provided information regarding participation in hooking-up sex and condom provision, differentially by gender of the model). Thus, the results do not provide evidence of support for a sexual double-standard among college females.
The purpose of the study was to determine whether a "double standard" exists regarding hooking-up/ casual sexual behavior and condom provision in such situations. Are men and women who are participating in the same sexual and condom provision behaviors evaluated differently relative to selected character traits?
Results for male participants showed a significant model x vignette interaction for all three scales (likeability, positive character, and negative character behavior). Males who rated Susan, in the "no sex" vignette gave her more favorable ratings than males who rated Susan in the "hooking-up/no mention of condom" vignette. Males who received the "condom provision" vignette gave Susan the lowest rating.
Males who rated John in the "no sex" vignette, however, gave him a less favorable rating than did males rating John in the "hooking-up/no mention of condom" vignette, and males rating John in the "condom provision" vignette. In fact, across all three scales Susan's most favorable rating was always in the "no sex" vignette and least favorable rating was always in the "condom provision" vignette. John's least favorable rating was always in the "no sex" vignette and most favorable rating was always in the "condom provision" vignette. Thus, these results showed that males did exhibit a double-standard in regard to hooking-up/casual sexual behavior and condom provision.
Results for female participants did not show significant model x vignette interaction effects. Thus, the double-standard was not evident among female participants.
Findings from previous studies concerned with the sexual double-standard are varied. Consistent with the present research findings, Milhausen and Herold (2001) found a significant gender difference among college student participants, with more men than women endorsing a sexual double-standard. Moreover, Marks (2008) demonstrated that under conditions of divided attention, participants evaluated men with a high number of sexual partners (19), much more favorably than they evaluated women with the same number of sexual partners. Other researchers, such as Gentry (1998) and Marks and Fraley (2005) found little support for the existence of a sexual double-standard.
In the previous studies that examined the sexual double-standard and condom use, two of the studies (Hynie & Lydon, 1995; Kelly & Bazzini, 2001) involved the participants each rating a female model who engages in "casual sex" with a classmate in one of three situations: female provides condom, male provides condom, no condom was used. Thus, these studies allowed researchers to determine whether the female model was evaluated differently in the three situations. Since participants did not evaluate a male model, the researchers were not able to determine whether models engaged in the same behaviors were evaluated differently based on their gender. The current study found that male (but not female) participants did make differential evaluations based on the gender of the model.
Additionally, the studies by Hynie and Lydon (1995) and Kelly and Bazzini (2001) did not allow researchers to determine whether the model was evaluated less favorably for engaging in "casual sex." All vignettes involved the same sexual encounter. The only variation concerned condom provision within a sexual situation. The third study (Castaned & Collins, 1998) involved a dating couple. No information was provided concerning the couple's previous sexual experiences, other than all vignettes indicated they were "making out." All vignettes also involved the provision of a condom via a greeting card, with the study participants evaluating the condom provider. None of these studies included a vignette that did not involve a sexual situation. Thus, the present study extends the current literature as researchers examined whether model participation in sex, in the context of hooking-up, differed from evaluations of the model when no information about sexual behavior was provided. The design of the other studies did not allow researchers to make this type of examination (i.e. did evaluations of the models differ by whether or not a sexual situation was portrayed in the vignette?); only whether evaluations of the model changed based on condom provision information.
Interpretation of these results should take the limitations of the study into account. Participants consisted of a convenience sample of undergraduate college students enrolled in health education classes at one university; but an analysis of the demographics of the larger university suggest the sample is relatively representative. The study involved the evaluation of a hypothetical model in a vignette, which may differ from participants' actual evaluation of a real person. The use of vignettes, however, has been common in research, including research concerning the sexual double-standard. There is a heterosexual bias. The four vignettes involving sex or sex and condom provision all involved heterosexual couples and may not be applicable to Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual or Transgendered (GLBT) couples. Information about the participants' personal sexual behavior was not included in the analysis. Participants who had participated in sex in the context of hooking-up and had provided a condom, or had a partner provide a condom in a hooking-up situation may have evaluated models differently from participants who had not had these experiences. Finally, the current study involves a college sample, comprised largely of Non-Hispanic Whites. Thus, these results might not apply to non-college populations, or other racial/ethnic groups. Nevertheless, these results do provide insight concerning the sexual double standard and may be useful to student health and college student personnel workers, and other groups who are interested in encouraging condom use.
Future researchers should consider addressing some of the limitations identified in this study. For example, researchers should consider including other racial/ethnic groups as participants, as well as varying the racial ethnic group of the models. Researchers may also consider addressing whether participants' evaluations of models varies by the participants' own sexual experiences. Additionally, researchers may wish to examine how the model's views of condom use might influence participants' evaluations (e.g. were the models: glad they used a condom, concerned they did not use a condom, or glad they did not use a condom). Finally, researchers may want to address sexual orientation of both the models and participants.
While research suggests that sexual attitudes have become more permissive, our work demonstrates, that at least among males, a reaction to sexual behavior based upon gender of the model (i.e. a sexual double-standard), still exists. Double-standards place women at greater risk than men, if it influences their preventative health behaviors (i.e. condom use), which helps protect against unwanted pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases/infections. Risks for STIs and unintended pregnancies are not uniformly spread among the population, as college-age adults are among whom these health issues are the most prevent. Consequently, it is important to target this population with awareness messages and preventative educational interventions. These results should be considered by sexually educators in designing interventions to promote consistent use of condoms.
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Michael Young, PhD
Tina M. Penhollow, PhD
William C. Bailey, PhD
Michael Young, PhD, is affiliated with New Mexico State University. Tina M. Penhollow, PhD, is affiliated with Florida Atlantic University. William C. Bailey, PhD, is affiliated with University of Arkansas. Corresponding Author : Michael Young, Dean's Office, CHSS 310, College of Health and Social Services, New Mexico State University, Las Cruces, NM 88003. Phone: 575-646-4300. Fax: 575-646-4343. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Table 1. Results of Factor Analysis--Items and Factor Loadings Factor Items Factor Cronbach's Alpha Loadings Alpha Likeability .748 Factor Susan John .845 is a person with a good sense of humor Susan/John is .839 an honest person Susan/John is a .762 likeable person Positive .893 Character Factor Susan/John is a .882 trustworthy person Susan/John is a .876 dependable person Susan/John is .790 an honest person Susan/John is .782 the type of person I would want for my friend Susan/John is a .777 responsible person Susan/John is a .771 person with high moral and ethical standards Negative Behavior .891 Factor Susan/John is the type of person who will probably embezzle money .924 from his/her employer Susan/John would probably rob his/her best friend blind if he/ .889 she thought he/she could get away A28with it Susan/John would probably cheat on an exam if he/she thought .841 he/she would get a better grade Susan/John is the type of person who will probably cheat on his/ .819 her spouse Table 2. Results of Analysis of Variance--Differences by Model Gender and Vignette Type Male Overall Participants Likability F Value 4.49 Prob 0.0007 Positive Character F Value 4.70 Prob 0.0005 Negative Behavior F Value 3,99 Prob 0.0020 Model Susan Susan Susan Vignette No Sex Hooked-Up Provided Type Condom Likability * Mean *** 5.00 (ab) 5.53 (ab) 5.70 (b) SD 1.52 0.82 1.32 n 20 30 40 Positive Character * Mean *** 8.10 (b) 10.47 (a) 10.74 (a) SD 2.95 2.06 2.07 n 20 30 38 Negative Behavior ** Mean *** 12.90 (a) 12.57 (a) 11.25 (ab) SD 2.53 2.36 1.94 n 20 28 40 Female Overall Main Participants Effects Model Likability Gender F Value 2.10 4.47 Prob 0.0655 0.0354 Positive Character F Value 7.15 13.51 Prob < .0001 0.0003 Negative Behavior F Value 3,45 6.86 Prob 0.0048 0.0093 Model Susan Susan Susan Vignette Type No Sex Hooked-Up Provided Condom Likability * Mean *** 5.62 (a) 6.21 (ab) 5.87 (ab) SD 1.78 1.88 1.13 n 59 38 32 Positive Character * Mean *** 8.82 (b) 11.37 (a) 10.87 (a) SD 2.58 3 .63 2.46 n 58 38 32 Negative Behavior ** Mean *** 13.24 (b) 12.63 (ab) 12.87 (ab) SD 1.94 2.28 2.09 n 58 38 32 Male Interaction Participants Model Gender x Vignette Likability F Value 9.56 Prob 0.0001 Positive Character F Value 7.94 Prob 0.0005 Negative Behavior F Value 4.97 Prob 0.0081 Model John John John Vignette No Sex Hooked-Up Provided Type Condom Likability * Mean *** 6.15 (b) 5.67 (b) 4.42 (a) SD 1.83 1.68 1.41 n 26 24 24 Positive Character * Mean *** 10.08 (ab) 10.67 (a) 8.83 (b) SD 3.19 2.06 2.60 n 24 24 24 Negative Behavior ** Mean *** 9.92 (b) 10.85 (ab) 11.64 (ab) SD 3.72 2.74 3.21 n 26 26 22 Female Main Interaction Participants Effects Vignette Likability F Value 0.05 2.41 Prob 0.9548 0.0920 Positive Character F Value 8.26 2.85 Prob 0.003 0.0598 Negative Behavior F Value 3.71 0.24 Prob 0.0257 0.7849 x Model John John John Vignette Type No Sex Hooked-Up Provided Condom Likability * Mean *** 6.58 (b) 6.10 (ab) 6.29 (ab) SD 1.75 1.39 1.38 n 38 40 62 Positive Character * Mean *** 10.95 (a) 11.37 (a) 11.71 (a) SD 3.14 3.19 2.56 n 38 38 62 Negative Behavior ** Mean *** 12.84 (ab) 11.95 (a) 12.10 (a) SD 1.84 2.18 1.10 n 38 40 62 * lower scores indicate a more favorable evaluation ** lower scores indicate a more negative evaluation *** means with the same letter are not significantly different Figure 1. Interaction for Positive Character Scores Among Male Respondents Positive Character Scores No sex Hooked-up Provided Condom Susan 8.1 10.47 10.74 John 10.08 10.67 8.83 Note: Table made from line graph. Figure 2. Interaction for Negative Behavior Scores Among Male Respondents Negative Behavior Scores No sex Hooked-up Provided Condom Susan 12.9 12.57 11.25 John 9.92 10.85 11.25 Note: Table made from line graph. Figure 3. Interaction for Likeability Scores Among Male Respondents Likeability Scores No sex Hooked-up Provided Condom Susan 6.15 5.66 4.41 John 5 5.53 5.7 Note: Table made from line graph.
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