Date of Award


Publication Type

Doctoral Thesis

Degree Name




First Advisor

Cramer, Kenneth


condom negotiation, condom use, risky sexual behaviour, sexual arousal, sexual risk taking




The current studies aimed to examine factors that impact sexual health decision-making and processes of condom negotiation among young men and women. Condom negotiation is typically a dyadic process, which leaves it vulnerable to the influence of a host of individual, couple, and situational factors. These factors can push an individual into a sexual risk-taking danger zone, where their ability to make good sexual health decisions for themselves is impaired. In particular, the current studies investigated the associations of sexual arousal, motivation to establish and maintain romantic relationships (relationship motivation), meta-motivational states, and partner familiarity with condom negotiation processes. Study 1 presented participants with an online vignette describing a hypothetical sexual encounter with a new sexual partner and Study 2 incorporated a sexual arousal manipulation before presenting participants with a series of scenarios depicting hypothetical sexual encounters with more and less familiar new partners. Study 1 showed that an individual’s meta-motivational state is predictive of particular patterns of response. Participants who were experiencing either a more goal-oriented state or a more conforming state were more risk adverse. Across both studies, a significant effect of sexual arousal was seen; participants who were more sexually aroused responded with greater sexual risk-taking intentions. Relationship motivation was also found to influence sexual risk-taking: participants with higher relationship motivation scores generally reported a belief that engaging in condom-less sex would facilitate relationship development and were concerned that negotiating condom use would detract from building a connection with their partner. However, the effects of relationship motivation were not identical in men and women. Lower sexual risktaking intentions were seen in sexually aroused men with high relationship motivation, particularly with more hypothetically familiar partners. Whereas women with high relationship showed increased sexual risk-taking intentions, but only with hypothetical partners who seemed more familiar. The interaction between sexual myopia and relationship motivation in men suggests that high relationship motivated men may attend to different cues when sexually aroused, which impacts their sexual risk-taking intentions. The results of the current studies suggest that people highly concerned with maintaining a romantic relationship engage in more impression management. Thus, such individuals could be at increased risk for negative sexual health outcomes, due to increased sexual risk-taking in the service of building intimacy; though the extent of this effect can depend on gender and the experience of sexual arousal.