Young females’ sexual self-efficacy: associations with personal autonomy and the couple relationship
Background: Theory suggests that young women's own efficacy for sexual self-protective behaviour is greater when they are more advanced in their cognitive autonomy, and when they have romantic partners who support autonomy rather than engage in coercive behaviours and are warm and accepting rather than rejecting. Methods: A total of 199 women (aged 16 to 25 years) completed questionnaires measuring sexual self-efficacy, autonomy, partner communication and their partners' behaviours. Hypotheses were tested with structural equation modelling. Results: Correlations showed that young women reported more self-efficacy when they had greater autonomy and reported partners to be more supportive and warmer, and less coercive and rejecting. In structural equation modelling, the association of women's autonomy with sexual self-efficacy was indirect via their perceived capacity to communicate with their partners. Associations of partner behaviours with sexual self-efficacy were both direct and indirect via the capacity to communicate. Conclusions: Sexual efficacy is enhanced among young women who report a greater general capacity to communicate openly with their partners and have partners who display more warmth and less rejecting behaviours. Young women are also higher in sexual self-efficacy when they report more cognitive autonomy and lower partner coercion, but these associations are completely indirect via females' greater capacity to communicate openly. The findings provide support for sexual health programs focussing on decision-making skills, personal competence, partners' behaviours and dyadic communication strategies.
Health, Clinical and Counselling Psychology
Developmental Psychology and Ageing