Sexual development entails many experiences and is a major feature of adolescence. Most relevant behavioral genetic studies, however, focus primarily on sexual behaviors associated with health risks. We took a more normative, developmental perspective by examining genetic and environmental influences on five sexual behaviors ranging from dating to pregnancy in middle (Mage = 14.90 years) and late adolescence (Mage = 17.85 years) in a sample of twins (N = 3,762). Overall, behaviors that are more common and socially sanctioned (e.g., dating) were more heritable than behaviors that are less common and socially acceptable (e.g., sexual intercourse). That the etiology of different sexual behaviors is tied to their normativeness highlights the importance of considering the broader developmental context when studying sexual development.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This work was supported by United States Public Health Service grants R01 AA09367 (McGue), R01 AA024433 (Hicks), and T32 AA007477 (F. Blow) from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, and R37 DA005147 (Iacono) and R01 DA013240 (Iacono) from the National Institute on Drug Abuse.
© 2019 Society for Research on Adolescence