Sexual Socialization Instrument

Sexual Socialization Instrument

ILSA L. LOTTES,1 University of Maryland, Baltimore County

PETER J. KURILOFF, University of Pennsylvania

The purpose of the Sexual Socialization Instrument (SSI) is to measure permissive sexual influences of parents and peers on adolescents and young adults. The term permissive here means acceptance of nonmarital sexual interactions. A permissive influence is one that would encourage sex- ual involvement in a wide variety of relationships—from casual to long term. A nonpermissive influence is one that discourages casual sexual encounters and promotes either abstinence or sex for individuals only in loving, long-term relationships.

Description

The SSI was developed for use in a longitudinal study investigating the relationships among background variables, residential and social affiliations, and the attitudes, values, and sexual experiences of university students. The items of this instrument were included in a questionnaire completed by 557 first-year students (48% female) in 1987 and 303 of these same students (55% female) in 1991 when they were seniors.

The SSI consists of two scales, the Parental Sexual Socialization Scale and the Peer Sexual Socialization Scale. When the SSI was given to first-year students, short forms of the parental and peer scales, containing 4 items (numbered 1, 3, 19 and 20) and 6 items (numbered 2, 4, 5, 8, 15, and 18), respectively, were used. To improve the internal consistency reliability of both scales for the second administration of the questionnaire to seniors, the number of items in the parental and peer scales was increased to 8 (numbered 1, 3, 6, 9, 12, 16, 19, and 20) and 12 (numbered 2, 4, 5, 7, 8, 10, 11, 13, 14, 15, 17, and 18), respectively. These versions of the scales are referred to as long forms. The response options to each item are one of the 5-point Likert-type choices: strongly agree (1), agree (2), undecided (3), disagree (4), and strongly disagree (5).

If one is interested in an overall measure of sexual socialization from parents and peers, the items of the parental and peer scales can be combined to form such a measure as was done by Bell et al. (1992), Bell, Lottes, and Kuriloff (1995), and Kuriloff, Lottes, and Bell (1995).

Address correspondence to Ilsa L. Lottes, Department of Sociology and Anthropology, University of Maryland, Baltimore County, 5401 Wilkens Avenue, Baltimore, MD 21228; e-mail: [email protected]

Response Mode and Timing

Respondents can circle the number from 1 to 5 corresponding to their degree of agreement/disagreement with each item or if computer scoring is available, machine-scoreable answer sheets can be provided for responses. The instrument requires about 5 minutes for completion.

Scoring

Eleven of the 20 items are scored in the reverse direction: Items 1, 4, 6, 8, 11, 13, 14, 15, 16, 18, and 19. For reverse direction items, recoding for scoring needs to transform all 5s to 1s and 4s to 2s and vice versa before responses to the items are summed to give a scale score. For the long form of the Parental Sexual Socialization Scale, scores can range from 8 to 40, and for the short form of this scale scores can range from 4 to 20. For the long form of the Peer Sexual Socialization Scale, scores can range from 12 to 60, and for the short form of this scale scores can range from 6 to 30. The higher the score, the more permissive the parental or peer influence for respondents.

Reliability

In a sample of 557 first-year college students (Lottes & Kuriloff, 1994), Cronbach alphas for the short forms of the Parental and Peer Sexual Socialization Scales were both .60. Test-retest reliabilities comparing first-year students with seniors for a sample of 303 college students were .55 and .47, respectively. In this sample of 303 seniors, Cronbach alphas for the short forms of the parental and peer scales were .73 and .70, respectively, and alphas for the long forms of these scales were .78 and .85, respectively (Lottes & Kuriloff, 1994).

Validity

The construct validity of the Parental and Peer Sexual Socialization Scales was supported by statistically significant results for predicted correlations and group differences. As expected, Lottes and Kuriloff (1994) found that men reported significantly higher scores on both the short and long forms of the parental and peer scales. Also, as expected, future fraternity members as first-year students reported significantly higher scores on the short form of the Peer Socialization Scale than did first-year male students who remained independent. Similarly, compared to nonfraternity senior men, senior fraternity men reported significantly higher scores on the long form of the Peer Sexual Socialization Scale (Lottes & Kuriloff, 1994). In addition, the short forms of the Parental and Peer Sexualization Scales were found to be positively significantly correlated with number of sex partners and negatively significantly correlated with age of first intercourse.

Sexual Socialization Instrument Directions:

Below you will see five numbers corresponding to five choices. Choose the response that best describes your degree of agreement/disagreement with each statement. Write or shade in only one response for each statement. Because all responses will remain anonymous you can respond truthfully with no concerns about anyone connecting responses with individuals.

Strongly Agree (1) Agree (2) Undecided (3) Disagree (4) Strongly Disagree (5)

1. My mother would have felt okay about my having sex with many different people.

2. I am uncomfortable around people who spend much of their time talking about their sexual experiences.

3. My father would have felt upset if he’d thought I was having sex with many different people.

4. Among my friends, men who have the most sexual experience are the most highly regarded.

5. My friends disapprove of being involved with someone who was known to be sexually easy.

6. According to my parents, having sexual intercourse is an important part of my becoming an adult.

7. Most of my friends don’t approve of having multiple sexual partners.

8. My friends and I enjoy telling each other about our sexual experiences.

9. My parents stress that sex and intimacy should always be linked.

10. Most of my friends believe that you should only have sex in a serious relationship.

11. Among my friends alcohol is used to get someone to sleep with you.

12. My parents would disapprove of my being sexually active.

13. My friends approve of being involved with someone just for sex.

14. My friends brag about their sexual exploits.‌

15. My friends suggest dates to each other who are known to be sexually easy.

16. My parents encourage me to have sex with many people before I get married.

17. Among my friends, people seldom discuss their sexuality.

18. Among my friends, women who have the most sexual experience are the most highly regarded.

19. My father would have felt okay about my having casual sexual encounters.

20. My mother would only have approved of me having sex in a serious relationship.

References

Bell, S. T., Kuriloff, P. J., Lottes I. L., Nathanson, J., Judge, T., & Fogelson- Turet, K. (1992). Rape and callousness in college freshmen: An empirical investigation of a sociocultural model of aggression towards women. Journal of College Student Development, 33, 454–461.

Bell, S. T., Lottes, I. L., & Kuriloff, P. J. (1995). Understanding rape cal- lousness in college students: Results of a panel study. Unpublished manuscript.

Kuriloff, P. J., Lottes, I. L., & Bell, S. T. (1995). The socialization of sexual misconduct in college students. Unpublished manuscript.

Lottes, I. L., & Kuriloff, P. J. (1994). Sexual socialization differences by gender, Greek membership, ethnicity, and religious background. Psychology of Women Quarterly, 18, 203–219.