Associations between personality, alcohol consumption and risky sexual behaviour
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The present study aimed to investigate the associations between personality traits, alcohol consumption and risky sexual behaviour. The study was based on a cross-sectional survey of 196 male and female undergraduate students at Edinburgh University, aged 17-28 years old. Participants completed the International Personality Item Pool Questionnaire (Goldberg, 1993), as well as instruments to assess Sensation Seeking, Impulse Control and self-esteem. Self-reported alcohol consumption and risky sexual behaviours were measured using two additional scales developed specifically for this study. Multiple regression analyses revealed that in both men (p = .012) and women (p = .000) higher Sensation Seeking predicted greater alcohol consumption, accounting for 10% and 17.7% of the variance, respectively. Lower conscientiousness (p = .005) and higher Extraversion (p = .013) also emerged as independent predictors of alcohol consumption in women, accounting for a further 4% and 2.9% of the variance, respectively. In males, lower Agreeableness (p = .025) emerged as an independent predictor of risky sexual behaviour, accounting for 7.7% of the variance before and after adjustment for alcohol consumption. In females, higher Sensation Seeking (p = .001) was an independent predictor of risky sexual behaviour, accounting for 8.1% of the variance. However, after adjustment for alcohol consumption, Sensation-Seeking was no longer a significant predictor of risky sexual behaviour in females, with alcohol consumption alone (p = .001) accounting for 13% of the variance. In conclusion, the relationships between personality, alcohol consumption and sexual risk taking differed for men and women. The results suggest that males with lower levels of Agreeableness may incur an increased risk for sexually transmitted diseases. The results in females suggest there may be a direct relationship between alcohol consumption and risky sexual behaviour.