Faculty Mentor

Elizabeth R. Brown, PhD, Associate Professor

Faculty Mentor Department

Department of Psychology


In the U.S., one in four women under 20 will experience unwanted pregnancy (NCPTU, 2017). Additionally, young adults (15-24) account for half of the new STI’s (CDC, 2017). Previous research has found that gender norms can have detrimental impacts on factors related to safe sex practices (e.g., condom use) such as perceptions of responsibility, self-efficacy and partner communication (Bertens, et al., 2008; Fantasia, et al., 2014; French & Holland, 2013; Huber & Eresek, 2011; Impett, et al., 2006; Noar, et. al, 2002). Conversely, findings have shown that communal (other-oriented) motivations is a predictor of condom use intentions, however, it has not been examined as how it relates and/or interacts with gender norms, perceptions of responsibility, self-efficacy and partner communication.We hypothesized that communal motivation and gender norms would interact to predict perceptions of responsibility and self-efficacy, which in turn would predict partner communication, and ultimately condom use intentions. We also expected the interactions to differ based on participant gender. We surveyed over 600 college-aged participants across two studies. Across the studies, we found the anticipated negative relationships between gender norms and safe sex practices, while we found anticipated positive relationships between communal motivations and safe sex practices. Likewise, gender differences in results also emerged. These findings will help illuminate critical factors associated with safe sex practices and supplement future sexual health education approaches. Implications and variances across the studies are discussed.