Psychology, Department of


Document Type


Date of this Version

November 1998


Published in Education and Treatment of Children 21:4 (Nov. 1998), pp. 431–446. Education and Treatment of Children (ISSN: 07488491) is published quarterly by the West Virginia University Press in cooperation with California University of Pennsylvania. Used by permission.


The current HIV/AIDS epidemic has revitalized interest in adolescent sexual behavior and led to exciting new lines of prevention research. Researchers have concluded that awareness of the risks associated with high-risk sexual behavior alone is not enough to change the behavior of adolescents. Cognitive behavioral skills interventions that directly teach adolescents new skills are now widely recommended as components of prevention efforts. Although social-skills training has often been included as a component of such interventions, we actually know little about how social skills and adolescent sexual behavior are related. This paper provides a conceptual framework based on social-learning theory for understanding the relations between social skills, high-risk sexual behavior, and many of the problems associated with adolescent sexual activity. The paper concludes with a call for renewed interest in heterosocial skills research and outlines possible directions for future investigation.