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Social Pressure Encourages Teenagers to Sext

Update Date: Dec 14, 2013 10:42 AM EST

"Sexting" is a relatively new method of communication between people in some sort of relationship. Even though sexting, which involves exchanging sexual text messages, has become more popular, a new study found that teenagers might feel pressure to partake in this behavior. According to a study conducting in Belgium, teenagers sext because they are influenced by social pressure.

For this study, the research team, headed by Michel Walrave, Ph.D., from the University of Antwerp in Belgium interviewed 498 teenagers. The participants were between the ages of 15 and 18. The survey was designed to measure "predictive value of personal attitudes, subjection norm, and perceived behavioral control using the theory of planned behavior," described by Medical Xpress.

"According to our study, the importance of perceived social pressure outweighs the relative importance of adolescents' attitude and perceived control in predicting the involvement of this age group in sexting," the authors wrote.

The researches found that out of the three factors, subjective norm was the strongest predictor of sexting amongst teens. This meant that teenagers chose to sext because they believed that sexting was normal within their relative groups. The researchers reported that teenagers' subjective norms were greatly influenced by friends and romantic partners. The second predictor of sexting was the teenagers' attitudes. The researchers found that only positive attitudes in regards to sexting influenced teenagers to partake in it. The last factor, perceived behavioral control had a small influence on teenagers. The researchers found that teenagers who believed that they had control over their own intentions to sext were more likely to sext.

The study was published in Behavior and Information Technology.

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