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Everybody's Not Doing It: Misperceptions of College Students' Sexual Activity

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Objective: To assess perceptions of campus norms for recent sexual activity and to determine whether personal behavior was related to these perceptions. Method: Subjects included 725 students who completed a survey questionnaire, which elicited information about estimations of the prevalence of sexual activity and self-reports of sexual activity. Results: Males and females who estimated high levels of sexual activity among their peers were more likely to have had sexual intercourse in the past month than were those who made lower estimations of peer sexual activity. Conclusion: Students holding the perception that “everybody's doing it” were found to clearly be at higher risk of being sexually active themselves.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: Division of HPERD, University of Idaho, Moscow, ID. 2: Department of PEHR, Eastern Washington University, Cheney, WA. 3: Injury Surveillance, Prevention and Research Unit, Centre for Community Child Health Research, Vancouver BC, Canada.

Publication date: September 1, 2000

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  • The American Journal of Health Behavior seeks to improve the quality of life through multidisciplinary health efforts in fostering a better understanding of the multidimensional nature of both individuals and social systems as they relate to health behaviors.

    The Journal aims to provide a comprehensive understanding of the impact of personal attributes, personality characteristics, behavior patterns, social structure, and processes on health maintenance, health restoration, and health improvement; to disseminate knowledge of holistic, multidisciplinary approaches to designing and implementing effective health programs; and to showcase health behavior analysis skills that have been proven to affect health improvement and recovery.

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