Talking About Safe Sex: The Role of Expectations and Experience1


  • 1

    The authors thank Mauree Popp and Ben Rea for their help in conducting the experiment, and Justin Moore for his help in coding the data. We also thank Scott Allison, Holly Arrow, John Edwards, Bertram Malle, Kathryn Oleson, Carolyn Weisz, and Tim Wilson for their comments on an earlier draft of the paper. Some of the data in this paper were presented in a poster session at the 1996 meeting of the Southeastern Society of Social Psychologists in Norfolk, VA.

2 Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Sara D. Hodges, Department of Psychology, University of Oregon, Eugene, OR 97403–1227. e-mail:


We examined how affective expectations and objective experience influenced female college students' (N= 69) evaluations of discussions of safe-sex practices and willingness to engage in future discussions. Participants interacted with a confident male confederate (positive experience) or a nervous one (negative experience). Positive experiences produced more positive evaluations and greater willingness to participate in the future. Expectations were manipulated after the discussion by telling participants that discussions became easier over time (positive expectations) or telling participants nothing (neutral expectations). Independent of experience, positive expectations also resulted in more positive evaluations and greater willingness. Similar results were obtained 2 weeks later. Findings are discussed in terms of previous studies of affective expectations and implications for safe-sex education programs.