Understanding differences in sexting behaviors across gender, relationship status, and sexual identity, and the role of expectancies in sexting.
Sexting, or the exchange of sexually explicit material via Internet social-networking site or mobile phone, is an increasingly prevalent behavior. The study sought to (1) identify expectancies regarding sexting behaviors, (2) examine how demographics (i.e., gender, sexual identity, relationship status) might be differentially related to sexting expectancies and behaviors, and (3) examine whether these concurrent relationships are consistent with a theoretical causal model in which sexting expectancies influence sexting behaviors. The sample consisted of 278 undergraduate students (mean age=21.0 years, SD=4.56; 53.8% female; 76.3% caucasian). Factor analyses supported the validity and reliability of the Sextpectancies Measure (?=0.85-0.93 across subscales) and indicated two expectancy domains each for both sending and receiving sexts: positive expectancies (sexual-related and affect-related) and negative expectancies. Males reported stronger positive expectancies (F=4.64, p=0.03) while females reported stronger negative expectancies (F=6.11, p=0.01) about receiving sexts. There were also differences across relationship status regarding negative expectancies (F=2.25, p=0.05 for sending; F=4.24, p=0.002 for receiving). There were also significant effects of positive (F=45.98, p<0.001 for sending, F=22.42, p<0.001 for receiving) and negative expectancies (F=36.65, p=0.02 sending, F=14.41, p<0.001 receiving) on sexting behaviors (?(2) from 0.04-0.13). College students reported both positive and negative sextpectancies, although sextpectancies and sexting varied significantly across gender, race, sexual identity, and relationship status. Concurrent relationships were consistent with the causal model of sextpectancies influencing sexting behaviors, and this study serves as the first test of this model, which could inform future prevention strategies to mitigate sexting risks.