Sexual Activity and Academic Attainment: The Sexual Double Standard and Its Implications for Sexually Active Adolescents

Open Access
Torchiana, Devon Schalcher
Graduate Program:
Crime, Law and Justice
Master of Arts
Document Type:
Master Thesis
Date of Defense:
July 03, 2013
Committee Members:
  • Derek Allen Kreager, Thesis Advisor
  • Jeremy Staff, Thesis Advisor
  • sexual behavior
  • academic attainment
  • sexual double standard
Using data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health (Add Health), this study assesses the impact of sexual activity on peer acceptance and, subsequently, on educational attainment. This study, in accordance with the sexual double standard, hypothesizes that sexually active adolescent males will be less likely than sexually active adolescent females to experience negative reactions from peers as a result of being sexually active. As peer acceptance has been positively associated with educational attainment, this study predicts that when peer acceptance declines for females engaged in sexual activities, their educational attainment will also decline, and that males will experience positive effects of sexual activity on peer acceptance and educational attainment. The findings from this study reveal a negative effect of sexual activity on female educational attainment, mediated by peer acceptance, and a similarly negative effect of sexual activity on educational attainment for males. Supplemental analyses examine the effects of higher numbers of sexual partners and age at first sexual encounter.