Pubertal Development and Sexual Intercourse Among Adolescent Girls: An Examination of Direct, Mediated, and Spurious Pathways

Jukka Savolainen, W. Alex Mason, Lorine A. Hughes, Hanna Ebeling, Tuula M. Hurtig, Anja M. Taanila

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

8 Scopus citations

Abstract

There are strong reasons to assume that early onset of puberty accelerates coital debut among adolescent girls. Although many studies support this assumption, evidence regarding the putative causal processes is limited and inconclusive. In this research, longitudinal data from the 1986 Northern Finland Birth Cohort Study (N = 2,596) were used to address three theoretical explanations: (a) a direct effect premised on biological processes, (b) a mediated path based on social psychological processes, and (c) a spurious effect derived from the evolutionary theory of socialization. In support of the social psychological pathway, the negative association between age at menarche and coital status at age 15 was almost fully mediated by differential social exposure—an empirical construct measuring involvement in high-risk social contexts.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)520-538
Number of pages19
JournalYouth and Society
Volume47
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Jul 5 2015

Keywords

  • delinquency
  • peers
  • sexual behavior/risk

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Social Sciences(all)

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