Sexual Self-Concept and Sexual Self-Disclosure: Examining the Role of Individual Factors within a Contextual Model of Sexual Self-Disclosure
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Communicating about sex is important for romantic relationships because it is instrumental in maintaining sexual satisfaction in both the short and long term. Despite this, talking about sex is not an easy task for many people. This dissertation study extends current contextual understanding of sexual self-disclosure processes by examining individual and disclosure-level factors and their impact on the sexual self-disclosure process. Using a sample of 582 emerging adults, this study examined the relationship between sexual self-concept, importance of impression management goals, perceptions of sexual self-disclosure risk, and sexual self-disclosure efficacy on a person’s likelihood to sexually self-disclose, the depth of sexual self-disclosure, and ultimately, sexual satisfaction. Results suggested that elements of the sexual self-concept are critical predictors of impression management goal importance and sexual self-disclosure risk. Sexual self-disclosure efficacy was predicted by perceptions of risk. The likelihood of sexual self-disclosure was predicted by the confidence one has in their ability to accurately and effectively sexually self-disclose. Sexual satisfaction was not predicted by the perceived likelihood of sexual self-disclosure, but it was predicted by sexual self-esteem, an important element of the sexual self-concept. By looking beyond simply whether someone is communicating about sex with their relationship partner and instead understanding the dynamic influence of various contextual-level factors, the results of this study lend implications for future empirical understanding of sexual self-disclosure processes, considerations for theory development and testing, and applications for therapy and sex education.
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