An investigation into sexting of adolescents and adults

Turner-Distin, Ayesha (2020) An investigation into sexting of adolescents and adults. DForenPsy thesis, University of Nottingham.

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The overall aim of this thesis is to deepen the current understanding and knowledge of adolescent and adult sexting behaviour in relation to age, gender, risk, motives, and emotional attachments. In addition, this thesis will explore the legal ramifications that adolescents face for sending and receiving consensual sexts, and the educational implications of this thesis.

The thesis begins with a systematic review of adolescent sexting behaviours and its associations with risk behaviour, antisocial and offending behaviour, and psychosocial factors. Results revealed multiple significant associations, but also inconsistencies in the associations. Contradictory findings, limitations of the review, recommendations for future research, and educational and legal implications are all discussed.

An empirical study is conducted in Chapter Three with the aim of furthering knowledge and understanding into the motivations for sexting and the relationship context that sexting occurred within, as well as exploring these variables within gender and age. Overall, 61.1% of participants reported ever sending a sext and 69.3% of participants reported ever receiving a sext. Sending sexts for mutual pleasure, sending sexts to a partner, and receiving sexts from a partner were the most common findings across the majority of age groups and across both genders. Findings differed regarding Older Adults who it was found most commonly receive sexts from friends and acquaintances. Sexting’s function within modern romantic relationships and the risks regarding this is also discussed.

Chapter Four presents the second empirical study with the aim of exploring sexting behaviours with online strangers in order to develop a better understanding of who is sending sexts to online strangers and why they are engaging in this behaviour. Over two fifths of individuals who had sent a sext at some point in their lifetime had sent a sext to an online stranger, and adolescent participants were the age group who were most likely to have sent a sext to an online stranger. This chapter goes on to discuss the risks of sexual exploitation from online strangers and the ways of mitigating the risk.

The final empirical study is presented in Chapter Five and aims to explore the relationship between different sexting behaviours (sending nude sexually explicit images of oneself, sending non-nude sexually explicit images of oneself, and sending sexually explicit text messages) and adult romantic attachment styles. The results indicate that individuals who sent sexts were more likely to have an ambivalent attachment style. Sexting’s role in relationships is discussed, and future research avenues are highlighted.

Finally, a critique of the Experiences in Close Relationships-Short Form Questionnaire, which is the questionnaire used in Chapter Five to measure attachment, is conducted in Chapter Six. This questionnaire is compared to its sister questionnaires, the Experiences in Close Relationships and the Experiences in Close Relationships-Revised. The psychometric properties and clinical utility of all three measures are examined.

Item Type: Thesis (University of Nottingham only) (DForenPsy)
Supervisors: Browne, Kevin
Keywords: Sexting behaviour; Risk behaviour; Relationship behaviour; Attachment styles
Subjects: W Medicine and related subjects (NLM Classification) > WM Psychiatry
Faculties/Schools: UK Campuses > Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences > School of Medicine
Item ID: 60159
Depositing User: Turner-Distin, Ayesha
Date Deposited: 28 Jul 2020 07:58
Last Modified: 28 Jul 2020 08:00

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