Comprehension of sexual situations and its relationship to risky decisions by young adults

V. L. Patel, N. A. Yoskowitz, D. R. Kaufman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


This research examines the nature of the relationship between comprehension of sexual situations and decisions about risky sexual behaviour by young adults. Participants were 56 heterosexual students from Brooklyn College, NY, located in a community with a relatively high prevalence of HIV/AIDS. They read a sexual encounter scenario and verbally responded to open-ended questions and made decisions about condom use. The responses were recorded, transcribed and analysed. Prior beliefs were evaluated based on participants' initial responses to the scenario. High and low risk individuals showed a specific set of beliefs about safer sex practices, and they processed information differently during comprehension of the sexual situation. Low-risk individuals focused on cues that show "risks of unprotected sex", with the goal of not taking any risks. High-risk individuals processed given information as emotionally related, with the goal of 'immediate pleasure' in the situation. These processing variables influenced the young adults' decisions to practice (or not) safer sex behaviour. Educational interventions need to be tailored for different patterns of behaviour. The goal of a customization approach is to intervene at appropriate weak links in the decision-making process, including any contradictory or unjustified beliefs, to promote safer sex behaviour.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)916-922
Number of pages7
JournalAIDS Care - Psychological and Socio-Medical Aspects of AIDS/HIV
Issue number7
StatePublished - Aug 2007

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Health(social science)
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


Dive into the research topics of 'Comprehension of sexual situations and its relationship to risky decisions by young adults'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this