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Using the Integrative Model to Explain How Exposure to Sexual Media Content Influences Adolescent Sexual Behavior



Published research demonstrates an association between exposure to media sexual content and a variety of sex-related outcomes for adolescents. What is not known is the mechanism through which sexual content produces this “media effect” on adolescent beliefs, attitudes, and behavior. Using the Integrative Model of Behavioral Prediction, this article uses data from a longitudinal study of adolescents ages 16 to 18 (N = 460) to determine how exposure to sexual media content influences sexual behavior. Path analysis and structural equation modeling demonstrated that intention to engage in sexual intercourse is determined by a combination of attitudes, normative pressure, and self-efficacy but that exposure to sexual media content only affects normative pressure beliefs. By applying the Integrative Model, we are able to identify which beliefs are influenced by exposure to media sex and improve the ability of health educators, researchers, and others to design effective messages for health communication campaigns and messages pertaining to adolescents’ engaging in sexual intercourse.