Personality variables: The health-behavior gap in condom use by males

Paul Denton Reid (1999)

Previous research suggests that the educational practices of communicating knowledge of transmission of the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), other sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) and dangers of unprotected sex have had surprisingly little impact on the sexual behavior of individual young men and women. A 101-item questionnaire, developed by the author, assessed each subject's level of knowledge of conception, HIV and STD transmission and his pattern of condom use during sexual intercourse. Six dimensions of personality were selected as possible moderating factors in this study of 61 heterosexual males aged 21-28. The six dimensions of personality included self-esteem, novelty seeking, harm avoidance, impulsivity, optimism and sensation seeking were selected from previously administered psychological tests including the Rosenberg Self-Esteem Inventory (Rosenberg, 1965), the Tri-Dimensional Personality Questionnaire (Cloninger, 1987), Karolinska's Scales of Personality (Schalling and Edman, 1988), the Life Orientation Scale (Scheier & Carver, 1985), and Zuckerman's Sensation seeking Scale V (Zuckerman, 1979). A statistical analysis was conducted on the contribution of the six selected personality variables to the possible relationship between knowledge of health risks and use of condoms. No significant correlation was found between knowledge and condom use even when the six personality variables were taken into account. Contributions for future studies are considered from psychobiology, on the complexity of memory storage and retrieval, the role of the hippocampus, and the mediating effect of arousal states on cognitive processing.