Whether or not to engage in sexting: Explaining adolescent sexting behaviour by applying the prototype willingness model

Michel Walrave, Koen Ponnet, Joris Van Ouytsel, Ellen Van Gool, Wannes Heirman, Anouk Verbeek

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

63 Scopus citations


Sexting has received increasing scholarly and media attention. Especially, minors' engagement in this behaviour is a source of concern. As adolescents are highly sensitive about their image among peers and prone to peer influence, the present study implemented the prototype willingness model in order to assess how perceptions of peers engaging in sexting possibly influence adolescents' willingness to send sexting messages. A survey was conducted among 217 15- to 19-year-olds. A total of 18% of respondents had engaged in sexting in the 2 months preceding the study. Analyses further revealed that the subjective norm was the strongest predictor of sexting intention, followed by behavioural willingness and attitude towards sexting. Additionally, the more favourable young people evaluated the prototype of a person engaging in sexting and the higher they assessed their similarity with this prototype, the more they were willing to send sexting messages. Differences were also found based on gender, relationship status and need for popularity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)796-808
Number of pages13
JournalTelematics and Informatics
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • Adolescents
  • ICT
  • Mobile phone
  • Prototype willingness model
  • Sexting

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Computer Networks and Communications
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering

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