Self-esteem as a predictor of initiation of coitus in early adolescents

Ennifer M. Spencer, Gregory D. Zimet, Matthew C. Aalsma, Donald P. Orr

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

62 Scopus citations


Objective. To examine the role of self-esteem in predicting coitus initiation in a population of early adolescents. Methods. Questionnaires assessing coital status, self-esteem, and pubertal maturation were collected from 188 participants who had not engaged in coitus by enrollment. Data were collected longitudinally while the participants were in the seventh and ninth grade. Ages ranged from 12 to 14 (mean: 12.50; standard deviation: 0.57) at Time 1 and from 14 to 16 (mean: 14.30; standard deviation: 0.49) at Time 2. Results. Boys with higher self-esteem ratings at Time 1 were more likely to initiate intercourse by Time 2. Girls with higher self-esteem at Time 1 were more likely to remain virgins than girls with lower self-esteem. Pubertal status was unrelated to initiation of coitus in this sample. Conclusions. Self-esteem, regardless of pubertal status, predicted coitus transition differentially in boys and girls. Results from this longitudinal study seem to fit within traditional problem behavior theory.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)581-584
Number of pages4
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 17 2002


  • Adolescents
  • Coitus initiation
  • Longitudinal
  • Self-esteem

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health

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