“Being Motivated to Protect”: The Influence of Sexual Communal Motivations on Sexual Risk Taking

“Being Motivated to Protect”: The Influence of Sexual Communal Motivations on Sexual Risk Taking poster

Research Authorship:

Robert V. Phillips, Sadana S. Mukundan, Luke J. Lovelady, Elizabeth R. Brown & Elissa M. Barr

Faculty Mentor:

DrElizabeth R. Brown | College of Arts and Sciences | Department of Psychology

DrElissa Barr | Brooks College of Health | Department of Public Health


College-aged students are a high-risk population for unplanned pregnancy with 40% of women between the ages of 18-20 experiencing an unplanned pregnancy. This can cause physical, mental, and emotional stress resulting in withdrawal from college for the student. Communal motivation (being oriented towards other’s needs) positively predicts condom use. WISE interventions, a simple yet impactful type of interventions targeted towards addressing a problem, have been shown to be successful. Participants completed a sexual risk behavior measure, sexual risk-taking measure and communal motivations (CM) measure following a sexual health video, and reflection activity were participants either applied the sexual health information to their relationship (experimental) or reflected on the sexual health material presented (control). CM was positively correlated with number of sexual partners in the past 3 months, r(262) = .162, p<.001. CM was also positively correlated with testing for STDs other than HIV, r(263) = .178, p< .001. Consistent with previous findings, CM was positively correlated with the importance of preventing pregnancy. CM have also been shown to be consistent with condom use intentions and condom use behavior. Future research will examine social and cognitive influences, such as prosocial behavior and risk preference, on sexual risk taking. Additionally, future research will examine improved sexual health interventions targeted towards at-risk populations such as women and the LBGT+ community.