Sexual Behavior in Young Adulthood: A Population-Based Twin Study

Brian Mustanski, Richard J. Viken, Jaakko Kaprio, Torsten Winter, Richard J. Rose*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

45 Scopus citations


Objective: With behavior genetic analyses of data from young adult twins, we evaluated theoretical perspectives that differentially emphasize biological dispositions, social/cultural factors, or universal pathways to explain individual differences in sexual behaviors. Design: We fit biometric sex limitation models to three aspects of sexual behavior reported by 4,925 Finnish twins ages 23-27. Main Outcome Measure: From a postal questionnaire, we obtained self-report information on initiation/abstinence of sexual intercourse, onset age, and number of sexual partners. Results: Genetic and non-shared environmental influences were significant for all three measures. There were trends for common environmental influences on initiation and, in females, age at first intercourse. Some differential effects in males and females were found. Results comparing onset age and number of partners among experienced twins from pairs concordant and discordant for initiation found genetic and environmental influences on initiation/abstinence overlapped those found for the other aspects of sexual behavior. Conclusions: These results document genetic variation in individual differences in sexual behavior of young adults. Incorporating genetic dispositions into integrated models of sexual behavior will facilitate more effective health promotion and risk taking intervention.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)610-617
Number of pages8
JournalHealth Psychology
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 2007


  • environments
  • genes
  • sexual behavior

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Applied Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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