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The Double Standard at Sexual Debut: Gender, Sexual Behavior and Early Adolescent Peer Acceptance

Tue, August 25, 2:30 to 4:10pm, TBA


A sexual double standard in early adolescence has important implications for sexual development and gender inequality. This study uses longitudinal social network data (N= 921; 11-16 years) to test if gender moderates associations between early adolescent sexual behaviors and peer acceptance. Consistent with a double standard, early adolescent girls reporting intercoursesex had statistically significant decreases in peer acceptance over time, whereas early adolescent boys reporting the same behavior had significant increases in peer acceptance. However, findings for “making out” showed the opposite pattern, such that girls reporting this behavior had increases in peer acceptance and boys reporting the same behavior had decreases in peer acceptance. Findings thus suggest that peers enforce traditional sexual scripts during early adolescence.