Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Newsflash!

Teenagers will lie about their sexual activity, particularly to conform to whatever they're thinking at the time or what is expected! And survey respondents - survey respondents will also lie! Especially if they are teenagers! I will rest easy now that this has been discovered. The New York Times is hot on the trail of this shocking development - Patterns of Deceit Raise Concerns About Teenage Sex Surveys

Actually, the study this is based on looks rather interesting, although I won't have access to the full study until June. An excerpt from the abstract:
Results: Among wave 1 virginity pledgers, 53% denied having made a pledge at wave 2; after control for confounders, pledgers who subsequently initiated sexual activity were 3 times as likely to deny having made a pledge as those who did not initiate sexual activity (odds ratio [OR]=3.21; 95% confidence interval [CI] = 2.04, 5.04). Among wave 1 nonvirgins who subsequently took virginity pledges, 28% retracted their sexual histories at wave 2; respondents who took virginity pledges were almost 4 times as likely as those who did not to retract reports of sexual experience (OR=3.88; 95% CI=1.87, 8.07).

Conclusions. Adolescents who initiate sexual activity are likely to recant virginity pledges, whereas those who take pledges are likely to recant their sexual histories. Thus, evaluations of sexual abstinence programs are vulnerable to unreliable data. In addition, virginity pledgers may incorrectly assess the sexually transmitted disease risks associated with their prepledge sexual behavior."
So seriously, this kind of finding may have an impact when you're talking about teens' reports of abstinence and basing public health/sex ed initiatives on these kinds of surveys. Really, though, is anyone truly shocked that teens would like about their sexual histories, particularly to cover up their own inconsistencies or failure to follow through on their promises?

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