Theses and Dissertations

Issuing Body

Mississippi State University


Sheperis, Carl J.

Committee Member

Wells, Debbie

Committee Member

Looby, Eugenie

Committee Member

Young, J. Scott

Committee Member

Xu, Xiaohe

Date of Degree


Document Type

Dissertation - Open Access


Counselor Education

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


College of Education


Department of Counseling, Educational Psychology and Special Education


Unhealthy sexual behavior continues to increase among the college student population despite education regarding its risks and consequences. Counselors are continually being faced with consumers reeling from such consequences. Because prior research has indicated statistically significant relationships between attachment style and sexual behavior, self-worth and sexual behavior, and peer norms and sexual behavior, this study examined the explanatory and predictive value of each of these variables when analyzed simultaneously. Specifically, the age at first intercourse, number of sexual intercourse partners, number of oral sex partners, frequency of cheating behaviors, and number of one-night stands were assessed across 855 students attending a medium sized university located in the southeastern part of the United States Packets were administered to each participating student containing an informed consent letter, a questionnaire regarding peer group (Ratliff-Crain, Donald, & Dalton, 1999), a demographics questionnaire, a questionnaire regarding sexual behavior, drawn from the National Health and Social Life Survey (NHSLS) (Laumann, Gagnon, Michael, & Michaels, 2000), The Relationship Questionnaire (Bartholomew & Horowitz, 1991), and The Contingencies of Self-Worth Scale (Crocker, Luhtanen, Cooper, & Bouvrette, 2003). Resulting data were analyzed using Multiple Regression and Logistic Regression analyses. Findings show that while self-worth domains of academics and approval are not significantly related to sexual behavior, it would appear that the sexually risky individual is likely to perceive his/her peers as sexually risky, to lack self-worth based on virtue, to instead have self-worth based on competition, and to endorse a dismissing attachment style. Further, demographic factors were also included in the analyses including participant age, race, gender, church attendance, religious affiliation, relationship status, and parents? marital status. Of these variables used as controls, race seemed to have the strongest influence on sexual behavior, with participants who were black showing the riskiest sexual behaviors.