Consistency of adolescents' self-report of sexual behavior in a longitudinal study

Cheryl S. Alexander, Mark R. Somerfield, Margaret E. Ensminger, Karin E. Johnson, Young J. Kim

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

54 Scopus citations


This study examines three issues relevant to adolescent self-reported sexual behavior: the extent to which adolescents rescind reports of sexual intercourse, changes in reporting of lifetime sexual intercourse, and changes in reported age at first sexual intercourse. Data come from a three-year longitudinal study of health-compromising behaviors among a cohort a 758 rural adolescents. Students completed a self-administered questionnaire on health behaviors annually in eighth, ninth, and tenth grades. Findings show that 88.8% of students in eighth grade and 94.3% in ninth grade who reported having had sexual intercourse gave the same answer in a subsequent year. Approximately 15% of students reported fewer numbers of lifetime sexual intercourse experiences in tenth grade than they did in ninth grade. Age at first sexual intercourse was reported inconsistently by 67% of the students. Inconsistency rates differed by racial-gender groups, question sensitivity, and prior sexual experience.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)455-471
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Youth and Adolescence
Issue number5
StatePublished - Oct 1 1993

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Education
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)


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