Sociology, Department of


Date of this Version



A THESIS Presented to the Faculty of The Graduate College at the University of Nebraska In Partial Fulfillment of Requirements For the Degree of Master of Arts, Major: Sociology, Under the Supervision of Professor Bridget Goosby. Lincoln, Nebraska: June 2011

Copyright 2011 Laura E. Simon


Attitudes towards premarital sex have become more permissive in the past fifty years and adolescent sexual behavior reflects this attitudinal trend. The majority of adolescents are having sex prior to marriage and many adolescents are having sexual intercourse outside of committed relationships. Sexual behavioral trends vary by race and gender adding further intricacies in understanding adolescent sexuality. Past research examining adolescent sexual behavior has not examined the role of sexual attitudes in sexual behavior and the potential differences by race and gender. I draw on the Theory of Reasoned Action to further the understanding of the role of sexual attitudes in sexual behavior and add detailed analysis to further examine race and gender differences. This study utilizes Wave I of the National Longitudinal of Adolescent Health (Add Health). Multinomial logistic regression was used to examine the role of sexual attitudes and race and gender differences in sexual behavior outcomes. Three sexual categories are included; no sex, relationship sex, and nonrelationship sex. The results show that adolescent sexual behavior varies by race and gender both within and across groups. Furthermore, sexual attitudes mediate race and gender differences in sexual behavior for some groups but not for others.

Adviser: Bridget Goosby