The developmental association of sexual self-concept with sexual behavior among adolescent women

Devon J. Hensel, J. Dennis Fortenberry, Lucia F. O'Sullivan, Donald P. Orr

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

47 Scopus citations


Developing a sexual self-concept is an important developmental task of adolescence; however, little empirical evidence describes this development, nor how these changes are related to development in sexual behavior. Using longitudinal cohort data from adolescent women, we invoked latent growth curve analysis to: (1) examine reciprocal development in sexual self-concept (sexual openness, sexual esteem and sexual anxiety) over a four year time frame; (2) describe the relationship of these trajectories with changes in sexual behavior. We found significant transactional effects between these dimensions and behavior: sexual self-concept evolved during adolescence in a manner consistent with less reserve, less anxiety and greater personal comfort with sexuality and sexual behavior. Moreover, we found that sexual self-concept results from sexual behavior, as well as regulates future behavior.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)675-684
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Adolescence
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 1 2011



  • Adolescent women
  • Latent growth curve modeling
  • Sexual behavior
  • Sexual self-concept

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Social Psychology

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