This result was especially true for daughters of mothers with more conservative attitudes about premarital sex and who discussed such topics infrequently. Last, the combination of positive mother—daughter communication and fewer discussions about sexual topics resulted in lower levels of sexual experience among the daughters. Research also suggests that positive African American mother—daughter relationships during adolescence delay pregnancy Scott, Despite the numerous studies in this area, there has been limited attention devoted to African American adolescents living in more affluent contexts Tolman, Consequently, current literature has limited applicability to upwardly mobile African American adolescents, particularly those making the transition to college.
African American Mother—Daughter Communication About Sex and Adolescent Sexual Behavior Most studies on parenting and sexual behavior among African American adolescents have focused on individuals residing in disadvantaged communities e. However, it is also important to consider sexual attitudes and behavior among African American adolescent girls from other socioeconomic backgrounds.
Specifically, research would benefit from an examination of the experiences of college-enrolled African American females for whom factors such as poverty may be less associated with their experiences. Campus racial composition is a potentially important ecological variable in understanding linkages between family communication patterns and sexual behavior in adolescents starting college. Staples and others have argued that some HBCUs reflect more conservative African American values and attitudes about sexuality as demonstrated by strict curfews for incoming freshmen, single-sex residence halls, and careful monitoring of visitors of the opposite sex.
Such rules may be more appealing to some African American families who may consider these institutions to be more reflective of conservative psychosexual attitudes common in other African American institutions e. However, the perceived benefit of matriculating at a PWI for African American adolescents is unclear. Thus, examining communication patterns between mothers and daughters affiliated with racially different colleges presents an opportunity to capture variation in sexual attitudes and behavior not investigated in previous literature.
Moreover, the process of dating and mate selection may vary for daughters attending colleges with different racial compositions. Recent statistics have documented the sex ratio imbalance among African American men and women on many college campuses U. Hence, examining the sexual decision-making of such adolescents at the beginning of their college careers poses an opportunity to investigate how these processes unfold during this period of increased independence.
Some studies have shown that more conservative maternal attitudes about premarital sex predicted less sexual experience among Latino and African American adolescents Hovell et al. In addition to these findings, growing evidence suggests that the impact of maternal attitudes about adolescent sexual behavior is moderated by contextual variables related to other aspects of mother—daughter communication and the family environment Miller et al.
For example, recent studies suggest that good communication between parents and children about general topics appears to create a context for the discussion of more sensitive topics related to sexual behavior.
These findings illustrate that positive communication, in general, between mothers and adolescents may be most relevant when considered in concert with other aspects of communication that are more specific to sex. This study had two goals: Consistent with previous literature, the first hypothesis predicted that less conservative maternal attitudes about premarital sex and more communication about sexual topics would predict more permissive attitudes about premarital sex.
Second, it was hypothesized that mothers and daughters at the HBCU would have more similar attitudes about premarital sex than would mothers and daughters at the PWI. Third, it was predicted that positive general communication between mothers and daughters, less conservative maternal attitudes about sex, and maternal communication about sexual topics would be associated with greater sexual experience in daughters.
Method Sample The sample consisted of 75 African American heterosexual late-adolescent females and their biological mothers. All adolescents were college freshman. Thirty-six mother—daughter pairs were affiliated with a private, selective HBCU located in a major mid-Atlantic metropolitan city.
Thirty-nine pairs were affiliated with a selective, public PWI located in a college town in the mid-Atlantic region. The median age for the sample was 18 years. The median age for the mothers was 46 years. The mothers ranged in age from 34 to 57 years of age. The level of education ranged from some high school to a doctoral degree e. Married and previously married mothers are overrepresented in the sample on the basis of census data U.
Census Bureau, , The measure has been used successfully in other studies with samples of African American adolescents e. Sample items from the subscale include the following: An item that assessed the frequency in which mothers gave daughters reading material or videos about any of the aforementioned topics was also included.
The items were scored on a 4-point scale ranging from 1 never to 4 frequently [several times a month during childhood]. The third item asked mothers to rate the extent to which they discussed with their daughters having sex before marriage in relation to their religious beliefs. Because the first two items had a response scale that differed from the third, all items were standardized and summed. The item scale measures the degree to which daughters agreed with the appropriateness of year-olds engaging in various sexual behaviors e.
Sample items included the following: The scale was revised slightly for the present study to reduce heterosexual bias by including two additional items for oral sexual contact between females and to assess experience with anal sexual contact separate from other behaviors.
The scores range from 0 no sexual activity to 12 anal intercourse or oral—anal contact. Respondents indicated the highest level of sexual behavior they experienced. Procedure Data were collected during the fall semester of the — academic year at both institutions.
Both the HBCU and the PWI are selective, research-intensive institutions with national reputations, and both offer doctoral training in a variety of disciplines, including the arts and sciences, medicine, law, and business. There were no significant differences between students recruited through psychology courses and those recruited through advertisement on the outcome variables i.
After providing informed consent, students completed a survey packet in small groups. To maintain confidentiality of responses, trained African American female research assistants provided participants with identification numbers and envelopes in which to place completed questionnaires. Mothers completed questionnaires and returned them by postal mail. Survey materials were designed to be culturally appealing 1 to increase the likelihood that mothers would return the surveys Dillman, In addition to receiving general information about how to participate and receive payment, each mother received a personalized, detailed cover letter appealing directly to the perspective and experiences of African American women and the importance of research in understanding them.
The letter addressed potential concerns about cultural bias directly and informed participants that African American women created and executed the project, that participation was confidential, and that interpretation of results would be executed in a culturally sensitive manner. Nonresponsive mothers were contacted by telephone to inquire about their interest in the study and to request that surveys be returned. Because of the ratio of potential predictor variables relative to the sample size, selection of predictor variables was based on efforts to conserve statistical power.
Hence, the regression model for each outcome variable contained a different subset of predictors based on these criteria. These data presented several options for the creation of interaction terms. Because the data contained two subsamples, interaction terms combining college with communication variables that explored patterns at the correlation level received priority. In particular, correlational patterns that suggested differences between the colleges were explored in interactional terms.
All maternal communication variables were centered at zero to reduce mathematically caused multicollinearity. College affiliation, a dichotomous variable, was weight-effect coded to adjust for the number of cases for the dependent variables.
Variance inflation factors VIFs were examined as a check of multicol-linearity, and all were within an acceptable range. Procedures outlined by Aiken and West were used to interpret statistically significant interactions. In each interaction, scores were computed by inserting specific values 1 standard deviation above and 1 below the mean for each variable to facilitate interpretation.
Descriptive Statistics Descriptive statistics are provided in Table 1. To test for differences between the subsamples, a multivariate analysis of variance MANOVA was conducted on demographic variables e. Fifty-seven percent of the sample reported having had consensual sexual intercourse at least once before the study.
Among the sexually active daughters, age at first intercourse ranged from 12 years to 18 years.