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Chaste, Pure, and Demure. Pledges of Sexual Abstinence, Religiosity, and Sexual Behaviors in Adolescent Romantic Relationships University of Tennessee Catherine M. Grello Peter T. Haugen Kathryn R. Wilson. Introduction/Purpose.

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chaste pure and demure

Chaste, Pure, and Demure

Pledges of Sexual Abstinence, Religiosity, and Sexual Behaviors in Adolescent Romantic Relationships

University of Tennessee

Catherine M. Grello

Peter T. Haugen

Kathryn R. Wilson

introduction purpose
Introduction/Purpose
  • The Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996 designated over $68 million annually for abstinence-only sexual education programs. Yet, empirical studies have found no or only a highly qualified relationship between adolescents’ participation in such programs and delay in transition to coitus (Bearman & Bruckner, 1999; Wilcox, 1999; Wilcox, Rostosky, & Comer-Wright, 2002).Factors which potentiallyqualify such a relationship include age of the adolescent and the number of peers in the adolescent’s social context who took the same pledge(Bearman and Bruckner, 1999).
  • Sexual behaviors have been consistently found to be influenced by religiosity (Wilcox, Rostosky, & Comer-Wright, 2002).
abstract
Abstract
  • Millions of tax dollars are spent annually on abstinence-only sexual education programs. These programs must adhere to strict federal guidelines to qualify for funding. A component of some programs, adolescents may be requested to make a public pledge of sexual abstinence. The efficacy of such programs is not clear. Religiosity has been consistently found to be related with a delay in sexual transition among adolescents. This study expands previous research by focusing on the possible association between participation in abstinence-only sexual education programs, sexual behaviors, and religiosity, in adolescent romantic dyads.
  • We found that when both couple members pledge abstinence they are less likely to report having engaged in coitus and oral sex. Furthermore, most report engaging in fewer affectionate, intimate, and penetrative sexual behaviors with their partners than couples who did not pledge. For most, the effects of the pledge were moderated by religiosity. Age and gender differences revealed that pledging and religiosity predicted fewer sexual behaviors among females and late adolescents regardless of gender.
measures
Sexual Behaviors

Ever intercourse (lifetime and with current partner).

Ever oral sex (lifetime and with current partner.

13 item frequency checklist of various sexual behaviors, scores for affectionate (= .85), intimate (= .86, and penetrative behaviors (= .81)with current partner.

Measures
  • Pledge
    • Ever make a pledge of sexual abstinence?
    • Where did you pledge?
  • Religiosity
    • 4 items measuring religious beliefs, practices, and traditions (= .73).
methodology participants
Methodology/Participants
  • The data for this project comes from the Study of Tennessee Romantic Relationships (STARR) an NIHCHD funded project.
  • 51 middle adolescent couples’ modal age ♀=15 and ♂=16.
  • 94 late adolescent couples’ modal age ♀=18 and ♂=18.
  • 90% of the sample was Caucasian and ~9% was African American.

Middle and late adolescents were examined separately because exploratory chi square revealed a 3-way interaction of age x pledge x sex (Likelihood 2 = 8.891 probability = .0308).

descriptive religious affiliation
Middle Adolescents

Baptist 53%

Catholic 5

Protestant 12

Jewish 0

Church of Christ 11

Other 11

None 8

Late Adolescents

Baptist 46%

Catholic 5

Protestant 21

Jewish 1

Church of Christ 2

Other 16

None 9

Descriptive: Religious Affiliation
abstinence pledge
Middle Adolescent Couples:

Neither pledged = 36%

She pledged = 27

He pledged = 12

Both pledged = 25

Late Adolescent Couples:

Neither pledged = 48%

She pledged = 23

He pledged = 11

Both pledged = 18

Abstinence Pledge

Couples Intercourse

  • Middle Adolescent Couple = 38.5%
  • Late Adolescent Couples = 61.7%
couple sex x who pledged middle adolescents
Couple sex x who pledgedMiddle Adolescents

Couple Sex

Yes No

Count 9 10

% w/in who pledged 47.4% 52.6%

Adj. Residual 1.0 -1.0

Count 4 10

% w/in who pledged 28.6% 71.4%

Adj. Residual -.9 .9

Count 5 1

% w/in who pledged 53.3% 16.7%

Adj. Residual 2.4 -2.4

Count 2 11

% w/in who pledged 15.4% 84.6%

Adj. Residual -5.3 5.3

Neither Pledged

She Pledged

He Pledged

They Both Pledged

Who Pledged

2=9.245, p<.026

couple sex x who pledged late adolescents
Couple sex x who pledgedLate Adolescents

Couple Sex

Yes No

Count 37 8

% w/in who pledged 82.2% 17.8%

Adj. Residual 3.8 -3.8

Count 15 7

% w/in who pledged 68.2% 31.8%

Adj. Residual .6 -.6

Count 5 4

% w/in who pledged 55.6% 44.4%

Adj. Residual -.4 .4

Count 1 16

% w/in who pledged 5.9%94.1%

Adj. Residual -5.3 5.3

Neither Pledged

She Pledged

He Pledged

They Both Pledged

Who Pledged

2=31.162, p<.000

religiosity
Religiosity
  • T-test of male partner and female partner’s religiosity revealed that females were significantly more religious than their male partners (p=.006).
    • When controlling for age, middle adolescent females did not significantly differ from their partners’ religiosity (p=.174). However, late adolescent females continued to report higher levels of religiosity than their male partners (p=.013).
  • A categorical variable was created for high, moderate, and low religiosity. Males and females were examined separately.
    • 2 revealed no significant difference in her religious group and couple sex (F=2.687, p=.261) and his religious group and couple sex (F=1.414, p=.493) for middle adolescent couples.
couple sex x religiosity late adolescent females
Couple sex x religiosityLate Adolescent Females

Couple Sex

Yes No

Count 11 3

% w/in couple sex 78.6% 21.4%

Adj. Residual 1.4 -1.4

Count 32 8

% w/in couple sex 80% 20%

Adj. Residual 3.0 -3.0

Count 15 24

% w/in couple sex 38.5% 61.5%

Adj. Residual -4.0 4.0

Low Religiosity

Moderate Religiosity

High Religiosity

Religiosity

2=16.361, p<.000

couple sex x religiosity late adolescent males
Couple sex x religiosityLate Adolescent Males

Couple Sex

Yes No

Count 25 6

% w/in couple sex 80.6% 19.4%

Adj. Residual 2.5 -2.6

Count 22 10

% w/in couple sex 68.8% 31.3%

Adj. Residual 1.0 -1.0

Count 10 19

% w/in couple sex 34.5% 65.5%

Adj. Residual -3.7 3.7

Low Religiosity

Moderate Religiosity

High Religiosity

Religiosity

2=14.507, p=.001

moderation analyses
Moderation Analyses*

Pledge

Religiosity

Pledge X Religiosity

a

b

c

Couple Sexual Intercourse

*Gender and age examined separately.

results of moderated regression analysis
Results of Moderated Regression Analysis

Variable ♀  Wald p♂ Wald p

age

Pledge

middle -1.494 5.926 .015** -.159 .072 .789

late -1.661 12.778 .000***-2.312 17.733 .000***

Religiosity

middle.147 2.929 .087 -.012 .024 .877

late .325 14.007 .000*** .340 15.741 .000***

Interaction

middle .403 6.206 .013** -.011 .046 .830

late .168 2.875 .090 .247 20.145 .000***

couple oral sex x pledge
Couple oral sex x pledge
  • No significant differences were found for pledge or religiosity and the prediction of oral sex among middle adolescent females and males.
couple oral sex x who pledged late adolescents
Couple oral sex x who pledgedLate Adolescents

Couple Oral Sex

Yes No

Count 17 19

% w/in pledged 31.5% 79.2%

Adj. Residual 3.9 -3.9

Count 37 5

% w/in pledged 68.5% 20.8%

Adj. Residual 3.9 -3.9

Count 6 15

% w/in pledged 11.3% 62.5%

Adj. Residual -4.7 4.7

Count 47 9

% w/in pledged 88.7% 37.5%

Adj. Residual 4.7 -4.7

Yes Pledged

Never Pledged

Her Ever Pledge

His Ever Pledge

Yes Pledged

Never Pledged

Her pledge 2=15.202, p=.000 His pledge 2=21.815, p=.000

couple oral sex x religiosity late adolescent females
Couple oral sex x religiosityLate Adolescent Females

Couple Sex

Yes No

Count 11 2

% w/in oral sex 20.4%% 8.3%

Adj. Residual 1.3 -1.4

Count 27 4

% w/in oral sex 50% 16.7%

Adj. Residual 2.8 -2.8

Count 16 18

% w/in oral sex 29.6% 75.0%

Adj. Residual -3.7 3.7

Low Religiosity

Moderate Religiosity

High Religiosity

Religiosity

2=13.936, p<.001

couple oral sex x religiosity late adolescent males
Couple oral sex x religiosityLate Adolescent Males

Couple Sex

Yes No

Count 24 3

% w/in oral sex 45.3%12.5%

Adj. Residual 2.8-2.8

Count 20 6

% w/in oral sex 37.7%25.0%

Adj. Residual 1.1-1.1

Count 9 15

% w/in oral sex 17.0% 62.5%

Adj. Residual -4.0 4.0

Low Religiosity

Moderate Religiosity

High Religiosity

Religiosity

2=16.838, p<.000

frequency of sexual behaviors
Frequency of sexual behaviors
  • A series of MANOVA’s were performed to assess differences among pledge groups, religiosity, and frequency of affectionate (i.e. kissing, holding hands), intimate (i.e. intimate touching w/w/o clothes), and penetrative behaviors (i.e. oral sex, intercourse) during the previous 30 days.
  • For middle adolescent males and females, no significant differences were found for pledge or religiosity and frequency of affectionate, intimate, or penetrative sexual behaviors.
slide20
For late adolescent females, pledge (F(9,163) =3.401, p=.001) and religiosity (F(6,134) =2.380, p=.032) were significant. Specifically, late adolescent females who pledge sexual abstinence participate in fewer affectionate (F(3, 92) =4.924, p=.004), intimate (F(3,92) =9.947, p=.000), and penetrative behaviors (F(3,92) =4.018, p=.011) when compared to females who do not pledge. Females with high religiosity report fewer affectionate behaviors (F(3,92)=4.387, p=.016) than those with low or moderate levels of religiosity.
  • For late adolescent males, pledge (F(9,163)=2.740, p=.005) was significant. Late adolescent males who pledge sexual abstinence engage in fewer affectionate (F(3, 92) =4.775, p=.004), intimate (F(3,92) =3.248, p=.027), and penetrative behaviors (F(3,92) =5.311, p=.002) when they are compared to males who do not pledge.
discussion
Discussion
  • Pledges of sexual abstinence were more powerfulcouples in which both partners have pledged. When both members pledged the couple was less likely to have engaged in sexual intercourse or oral sex than when one partner or no one pledged.
  • Late adolescents who reported high levels of religiosity were less likely to engage in intercourse or oral sex with their current partner than those with low or moderate levels of religiosity.
  • The effect of pledging was enhanced by strong religious conviction in most adolescents in this sample. Religiosity moderated the power of the pledge for middle adolescent females and late adolescent males. Pledge and religiosity were both significant for late adolescent females; however they worked independently in predicting coitus and oral sex.
slide22
Late adolescents who pledged sexual abstinence reported engaging in fewer affectionate, intimate, and penetrative sexual behaviors when they were compared to their non-pledging peers.
  • Our results may seem contradictory to Bearman and Bruckner (1999) who found the pledge more effective in delaying sexual transition for younger adolescents. However, Bearman and Bruckner (1999) also found the pledge to be less effective when the pledge is ubiquitous. In this sample, pledging sexual abstinence is fairly common. The ubiquity of the pledge explains our findings for middle adolescents. However, perhaps most interesting is the effect of pledges of abstinence among the late adolescent couples in this sample: for some, the power of the pledge is strengthened by religiosity. We suggest that the pledge itself may serve as a tangible symbol of an adolescents’ internalized beliefs and attitudes toward premarital sexuality. But, those that identify this symbolic aspect of the pledge, are of course in the minority.