Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Adolescent Latino Sexual Behavior: More Reactive or Reasoned?
by Gonzales, Felisa A., Ph.D., The George Washington University, 2013, 226; 3588123
Abstract (Summary)

The current study was guided by ecodevelopmental theory and applied the Prototype Willingness model to identify sociocontextual factors that may influence willingness to engage, and actual engagement, in vaginal intercourse in a sample of 9th and 10th grade Latino youth in Maryland. The aims were four-fold. The first aim was to determine whether a reactive response to risk opportunities (willingness) is a better cognitive predictor of recent vaginal intercourse than a reasoned readiness to engage in a behavior (intention). The second aim was to test whether behaviorally-incongruent intentions (to get drunk) contribute to the prediction of recent vaginal intercourse after accounting for behaviorally-congruent intentions (to engage in vaginal intercourse). The third aim was to identify sociocontextual factors (risk images, family cohesion, parental monitoring, perceptions of discrimination) that may contribute to willingness to engage in vaginal intercourse with romantic and casual partners. The final aim was to determine whether willingness functioned as a mediator of the relations between recent vaginal intercourse and the sociocontextual factors of interest. Four hundred and seventy-two Latino youth completed a baseline survey which assessed the sociocontextual factors, intentions to engage in vaginal intercourse, intentions to get drunk, and willingness to engage in vaginal intercourse with romantic and casual partners. A subsample of these youth (n=133) also completed a four-month follow-up survey that assessed their engagement in vaginal intercourse during the previous three months. All surveys were completed using A-CASI technology in the youths' preferred language (English or Spanish). Results showed: 1) willingness to engage in vaginal intercourse was a better predictor of recent vaginal intercourse than were intentions; 2) intentions to get drunk did not uniquely predict recent vaginal intercourse when controlling for behaviorally-congruent intentions; 3) behavioral willingness shared positive relations with positive pregnancy risk images and discrimination, and negative relations with negative unprotected sex risk images and parental monitoring (although results varied for romantic and casual partners and across genders); and 4) willingness did not mediate the relations between recent engagement in vaginal intercourse and any of the sociocontextual factors assessed, despite the fact that indirect effects were suggested by the results of the prior analyses. Overall, the results suggest engagement in vaginal intercourse among Latino adolescents is the result of reactive processes more so than reasoned processes. Although additional research is needed before these findings can contribute to evidence-based intervention programs, interventions that aim to reduce rates of unprotected intercourse, HIV and other STIs, and unintended pregnancy among Latino adolescents might attempt to change willingness.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Poppen, Paul J.
Commitee: Ruiz, Monica S., Stock, Michelle L., Vyas, Amita N., Zea, Maria Cecilia
School: The George Washington University
Department: Psychology
School Location: United States -- District of Columbia
Source: DAI-B 74/11(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Behavioral psychology, Public health, Developmental psychology, Psychology, Hispanic American studies
Keywords: Adolescents, Discrimination, Family support, Latino, Prototype willingness model, Vaginal intercourse
Publication Number: 3588123
ISBN: 978-1-303-26036-0
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