Sexual identity and sexual well-being in late adolescence and young adulthood



Muise, Amy

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University of Guelph


Sexual identity construction has generally been studied with a narrow focus on sexual orientation (e.g., Konik & Stewart. 2004). Despite the wealth of research related to identity formation in adolescence and young adulthood, limited studies have applied a broader identity framework to sexual identity. Low levels of identity exploration and commitment have been shown to predict poor well-being and adjustment in adolescence (e.g., Berzonsky & Adams, 1999), yet the role of sexual identity in sexual well-being and risk-taking had not been explored. The objective of the current study was to explore the predictive relationship between sexual identity, sexual well-being and sexual risk-taking in 373 older adolescents and young adults. Results indicated that higher levels of sexual identity exploration and commitment predicted greater sexual well-being, but higher levels of exploration predicted increased sexual risk-taking. Sexual satisfaction and sexual esteem were also predictive of certain sexual risk-taking behaviours. Implications for sexual health and education are discussed.



sexual identity, sexual well-being, late adolescence, young adulthood, sexual risk-taking