Casual sex and the sexual self-image of adolescents and young adults
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The current literature about casual sex (sex outside the context of a relationship) focuses particularly on predictors of having casual sex and feelings after having casual sex. This study contributes to this literature by focusing on the sexual self-image, which refers to body image and feelings about sex. It was examined which groups of adolescents and young adults (based on age, gender, education level, ethnicity and religion) have a more positive sexual self-image , and whether this can be explained by a higher level of permissive sexual attitudes and more frequent engagement in casual sex. To provide an answer to this question the cross-sectional dataset ‘Seks onder je 25e’ (2012) with a sample of Dutch adolescents and young adults (N = 7196) was utilized. Results showed that having experience with sex was strongly associated with a more positive sexual self-image, and having casual sex not so much. Young adults, Western and Surinamese/Antillean males and nonreligious people have a more positive sexual self-image, and this can partly be explained by a higher level of permissive sexual attitudes and more frequent engagement in (casual) sex. Future research should examine the causal direction of the relationship between sexual behaviour and the sexual self-image.