Date of Award

2002

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts Honours

Faculty

Faculty of Community Services, Education and Social Sciences

First Advisor

Dr Lynne Cohen

Abstract

The present study examined whether cognitive (beliefs), affective (emotions) and I or behavioural processes predicted young women's attitudes towards their sexual health practices. For pragmatic reasons, safer sex promotion has largely relied on the provision of factual information to promote behaviour change. Although the importance of emotional and behavioural influences has been indicated, these elements have not traditionally been included in sexual health interventions. In order to examine this issue, Zanna and Rempel's (1988) tripartite model of attitude formation was used. A convenience sample of female participants (N=98) aged 18 to 29 years was asked to rate their attitudes towards three sexual health behaviours; using condoms, having many short-term partners, and getting tested for Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs). Participants reported and evaluated their own beliefs and emotions about the health behaviours, and indicated the frequency with which they had previously undertaken each behaviour. Standard multiple regressions indicated that past behaviour predicted attitudes towards all of the three health behaviours. In addition, emotions predicted using condoms and getting tested for. STIs, and beliefs predicted having many short-term partners. The study supported the application of Zanna and Rempel's theory of attitude formation to the domain of sexual health. The importance of emotional and behavioural elements in the formation of attitudes towards sexual health practices was highlighted, suggesting the opportunity for intervention strategies to incorporate these elements to improve the promotion of safer sex behaviours. Finally, the importance of gender-sensitive sexual health promotion was emphasised.

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