Gender-specific normative misperceptions of risky sexual behavior and alcohol-related risky sexual behavior

Melissa A. Lewis, Christine M. Lee, Megan E. Patrick, Nicole Fossos

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

65 Scopus citations


This research examined gender-specific perceptions of risky sexual behavior norms among college students and their relationship with one's own sexual behavior. We expected that students would misperceive the risky sexual behavior of their peers and that these perceptions would positively relate to their sexual behavior. Undergraduate students from the United States (N∈=∈687; 57.6% female) completed measures assessing perceived sexual behavior, sexual behavior, and other behaviors (e.g., marijuana use, alcohol consumption). Findings demonstrated that students perceived that others engaged in more risky sexual behavior than they do and that perceived norms were positively associated with one's own behavior. The incorporation of personalized normative feedback regarding risky sexual behavior into brief interventions aimed at reducing risky sexual behavior is discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)81-90
Number of pages10
JournalSex Roles
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - Jul 2007
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Data collection and manuscript preparation was funded by a grant from the National Institute on Drug Abuse (DA019257: C. Lee, PI). Manuscript preparation was also funded by training grants from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (AA007455: M. Larimer, PI) awarded to M. Lewis and the National Institute on Drug Abuse (DA017629: M. Greenberg, PI) awarded to M. Patrick. M.A.Lewis(*).C.M.Lee.N.Fossos Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, University of Washington, Box 354694, Seattle, WA 98105-6099, USA e-mail:


  • Alcohol-related risky sexual behavior
  • Normative misperceptions
  • Risky sexual behavior
  • Social norms


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