Tuesday, February 08, 2011

Premarital Sex 2: Who Are the Virgins?

Regenerus and Uecker estimate that at 18, the threshold of emerging adulthood, 1/3 are still virgins. Who are most likely to be virgins?
  • In college
  • Religious
  • Not prone to getting drunk
  • Do not think of themselves as popular
Some subgroups that are especially likely to choose to delay sex:
  • Asian men
  • Regular churchgoers - men more than women
  • Politically conservative women
The role of physical attractiveness is interesting in predicting sexual activity. In their interviews, the Texas team rated the physical attractiveness of their subjects, as well as asking the subjects to rate themselves. The actual physical attractiveness of the young adults they talked to was not correlated with whether they were virgins or not. However, people who thought they were attractive - regardless of what the interviewer thought - were more likely to be sexually active.

The basic fact of sexual attraction is that any willing woman can find a man for sex, especially among young adults. What needs to be explained, then, is why some choose not to. Young adults who are still virgins have a reason and a support structure that helps them stick to their choice.

The main reason is they want to finish their education, and sometimes get their careers launched, first. College students, and especially Asian men in school, are particularly moved by this reason.

The main support structure is a religious community. This is a complex matter, though: evangelical Protestants are more likely to have sex than mainline Protestants. Regnerus and Uecker argue that evangelicalism is such a relational, pro-marriage, pro-family culture that it makes sex more likely - in part because it also supports marriage and family life if they do get pregnant. Episcopalians and Presbyterians were more likely to be virgins: they were more likely to have education and career plans that would be derailed by early pregnancy.


Benjamin said...

Fascinating. Now I have empirical evidence to support my effort to dissuade my two-year-old daughter from becoming a "popular" cheerleader someday... ;-)

By any chance, was this a bivariate or multivariate analysis? What else did they control for? What things didn't matter?

Anonymous said...

Or Presbyterians and Episcopalians just have less game

Gruntled said...

The research is based on multivariate regression analysis, though these details are only in the appendices.

As a Presbyterian, I admit that we may, indeed, have less game. But I will stick with our pattern, just the same. :-)