Sexual risk taking and constructivist self development theory

Date of Completion

January 2002


Psychology, Behavioral|Health Sciences, Public Health|Psychology, Clinical




The goal of this study was to examine the influence of disrupted cognitive schemata, outlined in constructivist self development theory, on high risk sexual behavior among 269 undergraduate students. Two models proposed to account for sexual risk taking were tested. Within this sample, positive sexual self appraisals showed better outcomes for contraception compliance. Consistent with prior research, poor condom use was related to perceiving HIV prevention as threatening to an intimate relationship and with poor compliance for individuals in committed relationships. Results indicated that the influence of disrupted schemata on sexual risk taking is mediated by sexual self-esteem and perception of HIV prevention as threatening to an intimate relationship. Female participants in this sample reported using contraceptives more frequently than males, however no gender differences were observed in reported condom use. These data suggest that targeting groups based on these factors may be an effective way of reducing sexual risk taking. ^