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Family, peer, and individual correlates of sexual experience among Caucasian and Asian American late adolescents


This study explored ethnic and gender differences in sexual behavior and its correlates among 148 Caucasian American and 202 Asian American college students (mean age = 19.8 years). Among Asian Americans, differences in mean number of sexual partners were not associated with differences in generational status, ethnic subgroup, or level of acculturation as indicated by language usage at home. As expected, Caucasian Americans reported having had more sexual partners by late adolescence to young adulthood than did Asian Americans, and males reported having had more partners than females, especially among Caucasian Americans. Measures of peer interactions and attitudinal and dispositional characteristics showed consistent relations with number of sexual partners, but measures of perceived family relationships did not. In light of the age group under study, discriminant analyses were used to explore those attributes that distinguish between virgins and nonvirgins, as well as between individuals reporting only one or two partners and those reporting more. Results showed that two discriminant functions formed from five key variables (involvement in risky behaviors, endorsement of casual sex, perceived physical attractiveness, reported success in forming romantic relationships, and religiosity) were successful in predicting three levels of sexual experience for 61% to 92% of the individuals in the groups studied. Copyright © 1997, Lawrence Erlbaum Associates,Inc.

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