The purpose of the study was to determine whether the influence of fraternities and sororities was predictive of sexual behaviors among college students. Understanding how fraternities and sororities influence sexual behavior may be of value in developing effective programs aimed at reducing sexual risk-taking among young adults on college campuses.
Participants in the study were students enrolled in college health classes. Students voluntarily completed a questionnaire in their regular classroom setting. The questionnaire included items dealing with fraternity/sorority (FS) membership, the degree that FS influenced respondent's values and behavior, the perceived message that FS gives about sexual behavior, and participation in five sexual behaviors. Three levels of FS influence were established: (1) non-member, (2) member who believes that organization does not influence his/her values or behavior and/or believes the message FS gives about sex is that sex must be in marriage/committed relationship, (3) member who believes that FS influences his/her values/behavior and believes the message FS gives is sex outside a committed relationship is permissible/expected norm. Data were collected from 584 single, heterosexual students, under age 26. Data were analyzed using frequency counts, chi-square, and logistic regression.
Females comprised 66.3% of the sample, whites 85.56%. Results showed: (1) The clear majority of students reported participation (ever) in sexual intercourse (72%), giving oral sex (70.9%), receiving oral sex (76.7%), and masturbation (69%) with fewer (15.4%) participating in anal intercourse, (2) there was a difference in perceptions of the message given by FS regarding sexual behavior by membership status for females (non-members viewed the message as more permissive than did members) but not for males, (3) there was no difference in participation in sexual behavior by FS membership for females, there was a difference for males, with members reporting higher rates of participation in sexual intercourse and both giving and receiving oral sex, (4) for all five behaviors a sex of variables was identified that distinguished among those who had never participated, those who had participated in the last 12 months, and those who had participated but not in the last 12 months.
Organizational influence made a unique contribution to distinguishing among behavioral groups for four of the five behaviors (all but anal sex). Results indicate that there is an FS influence on sexual behavior with the influence more pronounced for males than for females. These results should prove useful for those involved in campus programs to reduce risky sexual behavior.
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