Date Approved


Embargo Period


Document Type


Degree Name

M.A. Clinical Psychology




College of Science & Mathematics


D.J. Angelone, Ph.D. and Meredith Jones, Ph.D.

Committee Member 1

Chelsie Young, Ph.D.

Committee Member 2

Dustin Fife, Ph.D.


ambivalence, college, sex, sexism


College students--Sexual behavior


Clinical Psychology


Sexual ambivalence is defined as having both favorable and unfavorable thoughts toward sexual activity in any given sexual situation (Muehlenhard & Rodgers, 1998). Most sexually active people will experience feelings of ambivalence at some point in their lives and ultimately decide to engage in sexual activity (Muehlenhard & Peterson, 2005; Peterson & Muehlenhard, 2007). Based on previous research and guided by sexual script theory Simon & Gagnon, 1986), we hypothesized that gender, hostile, and benevolent sexism would moderate the association of prior experience with a partner/activity and engaging in sexual activity despite ambivalence. A total of 457 heterosexual college students answered questions about their ambivalent experiences and attitudes toward gender roles. Prior experience with a partner and sexual activity was associated with a greater likelihood of engaging in sexual activity while feeling ambivalent; however, gender was not a significant predictor in our models. Exploratory analyses indicated that hostile and benevolent sexism may predict engagement in sex while ambivalent above and beyond the effect of gender. The lack of support for most of our hypotheses may be attributed to the absence of a measurement of relationship status and assessing hostile and benevolent beliefs separately. Future studies may expand on these findings by assessing relationships on a deeper level and using an overall measurement of ambivalent sexism.