Oral sex behaviour as part of adolescents’ psycho-social functioning: A self-regulation theory perspective

  • Elena Sovetkina

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisPhD


Oral sex behaviour is fast and widely transforming into an everyday practice of modern adolescents’ life. Although seemingly less risky than vaginal or anal sex, it is accompanied by a rise in STIs alongside depression and anxiety associated with oral sex experiences of some young females, thus putting at risk both current and future adolescents’ sexual and psychological health and well-being. The four studies included in this thesis were designed to contribute to our understanding of adolescents’ oral sex behaviour as a part of their more complex psycho-social functioning. In particular, these studies aimed to test a proposed pathway of effects between self-control and successful or unsuccessful management of adolescents’ oral sex behaviour and associated with this behaviour psychological well-being through the application of self-regulation theory. Students’ oral sex behaviour and psychological well-being were tested at cross-sectional and longitudinal level, and analysed in detail through both quantitative and qualitative studies. The findings indicated that high dispositional ability to restrain sexual behaviour, motivation to control sexual behaviour and compliance to normative rules had a restrictive effect on the likelihood of engagement in oral sex, although their combined effect was found to vary under power relation pressure and according to the type of ego depletion state. Accounting for gender differences, for female students, body image satisfaction, self-esteem, and negative body image thinking habits were found to influence the likelihood of engagement in oral sex behaviour under gender power pressures in relationship and in ego depletion states (i.e. physical tiredness, cognitive load, alcohol consumption, emotional rise). In terms of psychological well-being, self-confidence was reported to be the most important factor influencing both females’ engagement in oral sex and its re-appraisal. The findings are in accordance with previous work on application of self-regulation theory in other areas of health-related behaviour; they indicate that self-control and motivation to control sexual behaviour can be promoted in modifications of risky sexual behaviour.
Date of Award1 Jun 2015
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Bath
SupervisorBas Verplanken (Supervisor) & Marjorie Weiss (Supervisor)

Cite this