Date of Award

8-1-2011

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Department

Health Education

First Advisor

Fetro, Joyce

Abstract

The purpose of this study was to assess attitudes toward sexting, subjective norms toward sexting, self-esteem levels, sexting behavioral intentions, and sexting behaviors (i.e. sending, posting, or sharing/forwarding sexually suggestive messages, nude/semi-nude pictures/videos, or both) among selected undergraduate students and also to determine relationships among attitudes toward sexting, subjective norms toward sexting, self-esteem levels, sexting behavioral intentions, and sexting behaviors. Results of this study showed statistically significant differences in sexting behaviors among demographic variables gender, current relationship status, lifetime sexual partners and current sexual partners. Nearly 700 (n=697) surveys were completed from selected undergraduate students during the spring semester of 2011. According to the findings, there was statistically significant positive relationship between attitudes toward sexting, subjective norms toward sexting, sexting behavioral intentions, and sexting behaviors. Also, attitudes toward sexting, subjective norms toward sexting, and sexting behavioral intentions were found to predict lifetime sexting behaviors, with behavioral intentions as the strongest predictor sexting behaviors. For non-sexters, there was statistically significant positive relationship between attitudes toward sexting, subjective norms toward sexting, and sexting behavioral intentions. Attitudes and subjective norms toward sexting are both found to be predictors of behavioral intentions to sext for lifetime and current non-sexters, with attitudes toward sexting being the strongest predictor of sexting behavioral intentions. Future research on sexting should go even further in depth to help explain reasons for sexting as well as reasons for not sexting. Also, future research should explore the benefits of sexting among consensual adults, paying particular attention to how sexting is used for sexual communication and sexual assertiveness. Recommendations for the profession of health education and health educators focused on preventing negative consequences of underage sexting, and promoting the benefits of sexting among consenting adults in relationships with mutual respect for each other.

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