The Emotional Context of First Sexual Intercourse on Current Sexual Guilt



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This dissertation presents three separate studies examining the effects of an individual's emotional response to their sexual initiation and their current feelings of sexual guilt. First, a systematic review of the literature is presented. From this review it was shown that previous research has found that an individual's response to his/her FSI experience has the potential to lead to later negative mental, physical and sexual health outcomes. However, limitations existed among and between studies. It was determined that a new measure of FSI emotional response was needed to minimize the limitations of previous measures which can be used consistently in future research. Criteria for such a measure are discussed.

Second a new measure of an individual emotional response to his/her sexual initiation experience was constructed using the conclusions of the previous review of the literature. The validity of this measure was examined among a mixed gender sample of participants, asking participants to rate emotions currently and at the time of the event, using more sophisticated statistical analyses than previous research. Results provided evidence for the appropriateness of the measure as well as support for utilizing both time periods of questioning. It was found that individuals were able to make a distinction between these two time periods, providing separate and distinct factor structures. Implications of these results are discussed.

Finally, utilizing the newly constructed measure, a structural equation model was created to examine the relationship between FSI emotional response and current sexual guilt. An individual's emotional response to his/her sexual initiation experience was found to be associated with his/her current degree of sexual guilt. Despite previous research suggesting the importance of the individual's age at the time of the sexual initiation event, it was found in the current study that this FSI emotional response was more strongly related to sexual guilt than age at FSI. The results highlight important relationships that must be further explored to better understand how youth and young adults respond to their sexual initiation and how this impacts their later sexual, physical, and mental health.