Date Approved

2013

Degree Type

Open Access Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Department

Psychology

Committee Member

Natalie Dove, PhD, Chair

Committee Member

Carol Freedman-Doan, PhD

Committee Member

Tamara Loverich, PhD

Abstract

Sexual risk-taking is a growing problem and an area where there are significant individual differences in behavior. One contributing factor to risky sexual behavior may be emotion regulation difficulties. For example, suppression has negative effects on emotion experience, while reappraisal leads to increased well-being. Previous research has demonstrated the use of sexual behavior as an emotion regulation strategy in victimized populations. This study investigated whether emotion regulation strategies influence sexual risk-taking in a non-clinical college population. Individuals with higher levels of emotion regulation difficulties and higher suppression use engaged in more frequent sexual risk-taking behavior, whereas individuals who used reappraisal more frequently engaged in less sexual risk-taking. In addition, the use of reappraisal partially mediated the relationship between difficulties in emotion regulation and risky sexual behavior, for females. The gender differences suggest that females may benefit most significantly from risk-taking interventions focused on increasing positive emotion regulation strategies.

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