Is sex for me sex for you?

The purpose of this study was to determine if undergraduates (N = 839) apply the same standard to themselves when labeling a behavior “having sex” as they apply to their significant others if those persons engage in the same behaviors outside the relationship. Using a between-participants design, one form asked participants if each of 11 behaviors constituted having sex if they engaged in the activity; the other form asked participants if each of the same behaviors constituted having sex if their significant other engaged in the activity outside their relationship. Participants answering for themselves were less likely to indicate a behavior was having sex for all behaviors except penile-anal and penile-vaginal intercourse. Men were also more likely than women to indicate most behaviors were having sex. The authors discuss what they define as a definitional discontinuity in undergraduate emerging adults’ definitions of having sex. Fundamental attribution error (FAE) and emerging adulthood literature are used to explain the findings. Health and relationship implications are identified.

Source: “Sex for You, But Not for Me: Discontinuity in Undergraduate Emerging Adults’ Definitions of ‘Having Sex'” from Journal of Sex Research, Volume 45, Issue 4 October 2008 , pages 329 – 337

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