The current study examined how impulsivity-related traits (negative urgency, sensation seeking, and positive urgency), behavioral measures of risk taking and reward seeking, and physiological reactivity related to three different risky sexual behaviors in sexually active undergraduate men (N = 135). Regression analyses indicated that sensation seeking and behavioral risk-taking predicted unique variance in number of sexual partners. These findings suggest that, for young men, acquisition of new partners is associated with need for excitement and reward and willingness to take risks to meet those needs. Sensation seeking, behavioral risk-taking, and skin conductance reactivity to arousing stimuli was related to ever having engaged in sex with a stranger, indicating that, for men, willingness to have sex with a stranger is related not only to the need for excitement and risk-taking but also with innate responsiveness to arousing environmental triggers. In contrast, regression analyses indicated that young men who were impulsive in the context of negative emotions were less likely to use condoms, suggesting that emotion-based impulsivity may be an important factor in negligent prophylactic use. This study adds to the current understanding of the divergence between the correlates of risky sexual behaviors and may lend utility to the development of individualized HIV prevention programming.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)