A study of intimacy motivation as a correlate to unprotected receptive intercourse in men and women who have sex with men

Donald A Dyson, University of Pennsylvania


Recent research into sexual behaviors has been driven by the public health responses to HIV/AIDS and adolescent pregnancy (Fenton, Johnson, McManus & Erens, 2001). In the current research environment, attention has been focused on studying sexual behavior in attempts to identify interventions that can be made to change that sexual behavior. However, the meaning of those behaviors to people must be taken into account. As we uncover the meaning of sexual behaviors, we hear reports of closeness and connectedness as some of the motives that people ascribe to sexual behaviors (Hill & Preston, 1996). Studies have been conducted in which subjects relate intimacy to receptive intercourse in which bodily fluids are taken in (no condom or barrier protection was used) (Boulton, McClean, Fitzpatrick & Hart, 1995; Prieur, 1990). In these cases, unprotected receptive intercourse (URI), a behavior that puts people at high risk for sexually transmitted disease transmission and pregnancy, is positively related to a desire for connection with another person. This research leads one to focus on the meaning of the sexual behaviors, or the motives that energize and direct those behaviors. Since we know that URI is one of the behaviors most likely to result in an STD or unintended pregnancy, and we know that people identify this as an “intimate” behavior, it leads us to consider the relationship between the motive of intimacy and URI. The Thematic Apperception Test (TAT; Murray, 1943) was utilized for this study along with the Sexual History Questionnaire (Cupitt, in Davis, Yarber, Bauserman, Schreer & Davis, 1998). Findings from each were analyzed for correlation. After completing the study with an n of 38 participants, stories written for the Thematic Apperception Test were coded for intimacy imagery and assigned raw scores. Answers to the Sexual History Questionnaire were identified that related to URI and were given raw scores related to the likelihood of subjects to engage in URI during sexual encounters. No significant correlation was found between the two variables. A discussion of the researcher's bias, the study's limitations and the implications of the null hypothesis result. Implications for future research are discussed.

Subject Area

Health education|Social psychology|Public health

Recommended Citation

Dyson, Donald A, "A study of intimacy motivation as a correlate to unprotected receptive intercourse in men and women who have sex with men" (2004). Dissertations available from ProQuest. AAI3125808.