Master's Project Title:

Adolescent Sexual Readiness and Selectivity: A Qualitative Analysis of the Teens Talk Health Website

MCH Student:

Emily Hager-Garman

Date of Defense:

February 13, 2014


Although research has begun to examine the constructs of sexual readiness and  selectivity, no established definitions of each term and their contribution to sexual  decision-making have been clearly delineate d in the literature. The purpose of this  qualitative study is to describe, in adolescents’ own words, determinants of sexual  readiness and different facets of sexual selectivity. Sexually experienced participants,  aged 14-18 years, were part of an ongoing  web-based intervention to promote healthy  sexual decision-making. Participants made comments on message boards in response to  six video vignettes addressing  sexual readiness and selectivity. The purposive sample consisted of 75 adolescents who commented in  response to at leas t one vignette (89%  female, 58% non-Hispanic White, 12% African-American, 8% Asian-American, 3%  Hispanic, 19% multi-racial). Comments were iteratively read, thematically coded, and  organized until no new categories could be  identified. Eight overarching themes were  identified from teens’ comments: (1) sexual readiness for the first time ever versus with a  new partner; (2) determinants of sexual readiness for the first time ever; (3) determinants  of sexual readiness with a new  partner; (4) general determinants of sexual readiness; (5)  sexual selectivity with different partners;  (6) facets of sexual selectivity for each  occasion; (7) sexual agency versus passivity;  and (8) why sex just happens. The present  research extends positive sexual development  frameworks by defining the constructs of  sexual readiness and sexual selectivity, identifying determinants of sexual readiness, and  identifying different facets of sexual selectivity. Sexual readiness and sexual selectivity  can be considered key components of se xual decision-making. Conversations about  sexual readiness and selectivity should be in corporated into sexual health programs for  both sexually inexperienced  and experienced youth.