Our goal is to document linkages between gender role development and changing sexual attitudes and behaviors pertaining to HIV risk in a multi-ethnic sample of young women and men. We propose to examine these processes across a significant ecological transition -- entry into college -- as a way of illuminating development and change. Emerging adulthood is a time of experimentation and exploration in the areas of sexuality and gender roles. This period also is a critical time for HIV risk, as men and women in this age group display higher rates of sexual behavior and lower rates of condom use. We begin by tracking changes in the multiple dimensions of gender role development, including gendered cognitions, personality qualities and activities and behaviors, across a one-year period at the beginning of college, and studying these changes as a function of individuals' personal and background characteristics. Similarly, we propose to study changes in sexual attitudes and behaviors as a function of personal and background characteristics, with the idea that change processes should be most apparent during this period of ecological transition. Grounding our ideas about the links between gender and sexuality in developmental, social psychological and sociological perspectives, we next propose to test a series of hypotheses about whether and how traditional orientations toward gender roles -- which highlight the importance of dominance, power, and thrill-seeking in men and the importance of being pleasing to others on the part of women -- are associated with risky sexual attitudes and behaviors. To track changes in gender role development and sexuality we will administer questionnaires to 552 African American, Latino American, and European American men and women at three points in time from the beginning of their first to the beginning of their second year of college. A sub-sample of these individuals also will participate in videotaped interactions designed to activate gendered social behavior, also at these three points in time. The results of this study will contribute to the literature on gender role development which currently includes little information on the period of emerging adulthood and on the ways in which ethnicity may moderate developmental trajectories. A critical step in the development of HIV interventions sensitive to issues of culture and gender is understanding how developmental processes relate to changes over time in risky sexual attitudes and behaviors in women and men from different ethnic backgrounds.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health & Human Development (NICHD)
Research Project (R01)
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Special Emphasis Panel (ZRG1-AARR-7 (50))
Program Officer
Newcomer, Susan
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Pennsylvania State University
Other Health Professions
Schools of Allied Health Profes
University Park
United States
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Wesche, Rose; Espinosa-Hernández, Graciela; Lefkowitz, Eva S (2016) Gender's role in misperceptions of peers' sexual motives. Sex Cult 20:1003-1019
Maas, Megan K; Shearer, Cindy L; Gillen, Meghan M et al. (2015) Sex Rules: Emerging Adults' Perceptions of Gender's Impact on Sexuality. Sex Cult 19:617-636
Vasilenko, Sara A; Lefkowitz, Eva S (2014) Changes in Religiosity After First Intercourse in the Transition to Adulthood. Psycholog Relig Spiritual 6:310-315
Lefkowitz, Eva S; Shearer, Cindy L; Gillen, Meghan M et al. (2014) How Gendered Attitudes Relate to Women's and Men's Sexual Behaviors and Beliefs. Sex Cult 18:833-846
Lam, Chun Bun; Lefkowitz, Eva S (2013) Risky sexual behaviors in emerging adults: longitudinal changes and within-person variations. Arch Sex Behav 42:523-32
Gillen, Meghan M; Lefkowitz, Eva S (2012) Gender and racial/ethnic differences in body image development among college students. Body Image 9:126-30
Gillen, Meghan M; Lefkowitz, Eva S (2011) The 'freshman 15': trends and predictors in a sample of multiethnic men and women. Eat Behav 12:261-6
Vasilenko, Sara A; Ram, Nilam; Lefkowitz, Eva S (2011) Body image and first sexual intercourse in late adolescence. J Adolesc 34:327-35
Stoppa, Tara M; Lefkowitz, Eva S (2010) Longitudinal Changes in Religiosity among Emerging Adult College Students. J Res Adolesc 20:23-38
Espinosa-Hernandez, Graciela; Lefkowitz, Eva S (2009) Sexual behaviors and attitudes and ethnic identity during college. J Sex Res 46:471-82

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