Latent Classes of Sexual Behaviors: Prevalence, Predictors, and Consequences

Rose Wesche, Eva S. Lefkowitz, Sara A. Vasilenko

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Scopus citations


Scholars of adolescent and emerging adult sexuality have recently begun to study how diverse patterns of sexual behaviors contribute to development and well-being. A person-oriented approach to studying sexual behaviors provides a nuanced understanding of sexual repertoires. The goals of this paper were to document patterns of sexual behaviors ranging from kissing to penetrative sex, and to examine how latent classes of behaviors, gender, and partner type (romantic versus nonromantic) predict intra- and interpersonal consequences of sexual behaviors. Latent class analysis of a stratified random sample of US college students revealed four classes of sexual behaviors: Kissing Only, Kissing and Touching, All Behaviors, and Oral and Penetrative Only. Compared to individuals in the All Behaviors class, individuals in the Kissing Only class were less likely to experience a positive or a negative intrapersonal consequence of sexual behaviors. Men were less likely to report a negative intrapersonal consequence than women were. Partner type predicted negative interpersonal consequences for the All Behaviors class. Implications are discussed in terms of normative sexual development, prevention, and sexual and relationship education.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)100-111
Number of pages12
JournalSexuality Research and Social Policy
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 1 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • Casual sex
  • Sexual behaviors
  • Sexual health

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Gender Studies
  • Health(social science)
  • Sociology and Political Science


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