The later, the better? early, average, and late timing of sexual experiences in adolescence and psychosocial adjustment in young adulthood

Claudia M. Haase*, Monique Landberg, Christoph Schmidt, Kirsten Lüdke, Rainer K. Silbereisen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations

Abstract

The present article challenges the assumption that later timing of sexual experiences is unequivocally associated with higher psychosocial adjustment. Data from two representative cross-sectional German studies conducted in 1996 and 2005 were analyzed to examine the psychosocial adjustment of young adults (age 20-29) who had their first sexual experiences early (before age 16), at an average age (between age 16 and 18), or late (later than age 18 or not yet). Early timing of sexual experiences was associated with lower educational attainment. Late timing of sexual experiences was associated with poorer social relations. Early and late timing of sexual experiences were associated with lower subjective well-being. Results were replicated across the two studies and controlled for sociodemographic characteristics and (in Study 1) early adversities, parental involvement, and pubertal timing. These findings show that not only early but also late timing of first sexual experiences can be associated with lower psychosocial adjustment in selected domains in young adulthood. Further research is needed to understand maladaptive correlates of late sexual timing.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)199-212
Number of pages14
JournalEuropean Psychologist
Volume17
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - 2012

Keywords

  • Adolescence
  • Psychosocial adjustment
  • Sexual abstinence
  • Sexual experiences
  • Timing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Psychology(all)

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