Personality and Sexual Risk Taking: A Quantitative Review



Findings from a quantitative review of the empirical research literature on normal personality and sexual risk taking are reported. The review focuses on domains identified in major models of normal personality representing the psychobiological and taxonomic perspectives. Focal sexual risk-taking behaviors were number of partners, unprotected sex, and high-risk sexual encounters (e.g., sex with a stranger). A comprehensive search produced 53 studies relevant to the review. A striking feature of the results is the paucity of research on domains of normal personality and sexual risk taking for all domains other than sensation seeking, which accounted for 64% of the effect sizes. The preponderance of studies (81%) took the psychobiological perspective and were published since 1990 (75%). Among the substantive findings were effects for sensation seeking, impulsivity, and agreeableness on all sexual risk-taking behaviors considered. Additionally, there were effects on specific behaviors for neuroticism and conscientiousness. The implications of these findings for future research on normal personality and sexual risk taking are discussed.