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Sexting motivations during adolescence are related to developmental dimensions-such as sexual identity and body-image development-or harmful intentions-such as aggression among peers and partners. Sociocultural and media models can affect explorations of sexuality and redefini-tions of body image, which in turn are related to sexting behaviors and motivations. In this study, we investigated the roles of body-esteem attribution, the internalization of media models, and body objectification as predictors of three sexting motivations: sexual purposes, body-image reinforcement, and instrumental/aggravated reasons. The participants were 190 Italian adolescents aged from 13 to 20 years old (M age = 17.4, SD age = 1.8; 44.7% females). Sexual purposes were predicted by body-esteem attribution and body objectification; body-image reinforcement was predicted by the internalization of media models, and instrumental/aggravated reasons were not predicted by any variable. Thus, only sexual purposes and body-image reinforcement appeared to be affected by body-image concerns due to media models.
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Journal of Adolescence
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Sexting as the mirror on the wall: Body-esteem attribution, media
models, and objectied-body consciousness
Dora Bianchi
, Mara Morelli
, Roberto Baiocco
, Antonio Chirumbolo
Department of Developmental & Social Psychology, Sapienza University of Rome, Italy
Department of Human and Social Science, Université de la Vallée d'Aoste, Italy
Sexting motivations
Body esteem
Media models
Objectied-body consciousness
Sexting motivations during adolescence are related to developmental dimensionssuch as sexual
identity and body-image developmentor harmful intentionssuch as aggression among peers
and partners. Sociocultural and media models can aect explorations of sexuality and redeni-
tions of body image, which in turn are related to sexting behaviors and motivations. In this study,
we investigated the roles of body-esteem attribution, the internalization of media models, and
body objectication as predictors of three sexting motivations: sexual purposes, body-image
reinforcement, and instrumental/aggravated reasons. The participants were 190 Italian adoles-
cents aged from 13 to 20 years old (M
= 17.4, SD
= 1.8; 44.7% females). Sexual purposes
were predicted by body-esteem attribution and body objectication; body-image reinforcement
was predicted by the internalization of media models, and instrumental/aggravated reasons were
not predicted by any variable. Thus, only sexual purposes and body-image reinforcement ap-
peared to be aected by body-image concerns due to media models.
1. Sexting behaviors and motivations
During the last decade, new technologies and media-based communications have provided a new way for managing social in-
teractions and intimate relationships. Smartphones, the Internet, and social networks can also be vehicles for exploring and ex-
pressing sexuality. Dened by Chalfen (2009) as the exchange of sexually suggestive and provocative contents via smartphones, the
Internet, or social networks, sexting appears to be very common among young people (Dir, Coskunpinar, Steiner, & Cyders, 2013;
Morelli, Bianchi, Baiocco, Pezzuti, & Chirumbolo, 2016a). The prevalence of sexting behaviors increases with the spread of new
technologies. The rst surveys on adolescents found the percentages of sexting to be between 20% and 33% (Eurispes & Telefono
Azzurro, 2012; National Campaign & Cosmogirl, 2008). A more recent study (Morelli et al., 2016a) found higher percenta-
gesdistinguishing between receiving sexts (78%), privately sending sexts (73%), and publicly posting sexts (9%).
We conceived the present study in line with a developmental interpretation proposed by the psychological literature on ado-
lescents' sexting (Levine, 2013). According to this perspective, sexting is now a normal expression of sexuality through new tech-
nologies (Bianchi, Morelli, Baiocco, & Chirumbolo, 2016), and it is just one of the new methods that media-based communications
have provided for facing some of adolescents' normative and developmental tasks (Šmahel & Subrahmanyam, 2014).
Studies on sexting motivations (Siibak, 2009; Vanden Abeele, Campbell, Eggermont, & Roe, 2014) have revealed the need for
acceptance and popularity among peers. This need also has a relevant role in facing adolescent developmental tasks related to
identity construction, new interest in sexuality, and the redenition of body image (Blos, 1979; Erikson, 1970). All of these
Received 15 December 2016; Received in revised form 16 October 2017; Accepted 19 October 2017
Corresponding author.
E-mail address: (D. Bianchi).
Journal of Adolescence 61 (2017) 164–172
0140-1971/ © 2017 The Foundation for Professionals in Services for Adolescents. Published by Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
developmental tasks contribute to identity redenition through social comparisons with peers (Festinger, 1954; Suls,
Martin, & Wheeler, 2002). Indeed, the most frequently reported motivation for sexting during adolescence has been related to
achieving sexual and social aims (such as irting, initiating sexual activity, capturing attention, arousing a potential partner as
foreplay, having fun, joking, achieving popularity, and imitating friends), which are two key developmental tasks during adolescence
(Lenhart, 2009). Furthermore, some recent studies (Bianchi, Morelli, Baiocco, & Chirumbolo, 2017; Bianchi et al., 2016; Chalfen,
2009; Henderson & Morgan, 2011; Siibak, 2009) have found that sexting can work as a form of self-expression underlying body-image
redenition. Thus, all of these sexting motivations relate to important developmental tasks that adolescents have to manage, sup-
porting a normative interpretation of sexting behaviors (Levine, 2013). More specically, online self-presentations appear to be
frequently used by adolescents to express and explore their developing identities (Schmitt, Dayanim, & Matthias, 2008; Walrave,
Heirman, & Hallam, 2014; Šmahel & Subrahmanyam, 2014).
On the other hand, the literature (Drouin, Ross, & Tobin, 2015) has also underlined the presence of more harmful motivations that
go beyond sexuality itself and seem to hide aggressive aspectssuch as being pressured by partners and friends; embarrassing
someone, being aggressive, and seeking revenge among partners. There are also secondary aims of sexting, such as to receive gifts or
telephone recharges (AP-MTV, 2009; Bianchi et al., 2016; Eurispes &Telefono Azzurro, 2012). These sexting motivations are related
to a problematic and deviant facet of sexting behaviors. Several studies (Morelli, Bianchi, Baiocco, Pezzuti, & Chirumbolo, 2016b,
2016a; Vanden Abeele et al., 2014; Walrave et al., 2014) have found that sexting can be a vehicle for relational violence among peers
and in dating relationships, becoming a new kind of gendered sexual harassment (Walker, Sanci, & Temple-Smith, 2013). The lack of
direct feedback and nonverbal communicationthe disinhibition eect, as dened by Suler (2004)can facilitate young people's
expressions of aggression in online environments. Furthermore, the false sense of privacy provided by the online dimension can
facilitate the perpetration of violence (Walrave et al., 2014) and can explain the exploitation of sexual contents for the obtainment of
some rewards. This instrumental use of sexting as an exchange of favors is based on a power imbalance between partners and peers,
representing a source of pressure to engage in sexting. Gibson (2016) suggested that, in line with the social exchange theory (Cook,
Cheshire, Rice, & Nakagawa, 2013), this power imbalance leads to a limitation of sexual freedom because providing sexual favors
involves a feeling of obligation in spite of spontaneous self-disclosure (Emmers-Sommers et al., 2010).
We have demonstrated in our work that the abovementioned sexting motivations can be summarized in a three-factor mod-
elcomposed of sexual motivations (related to the expression and exploration of sexuality among peers and between romantic
partners), body-image reinforcement (sharing sexts to look for a feedback from peers about body adequacy), and instrumental/
aggravated reasons (the exploitation of sexual contents for relational aggression or the obtainment of something else) (Bianchi et al.,
2016). These three motivational areas can be conceived in the framework of motivational systems that guide individual behavior, as
theorized by Lichtenberg (2013). Thus, instrumental/aggravated motivations are related to aggravated (harmful) sexting behaviors
whereas the previous motivations (sexual aims and body-image reinforcement) are an expression of experimental (developmental and
normative) sexting, as suggested by a study on the legal implications of sexting (Wolak, Finkelhor, & Mitchell, 2012).
1.1. Sociocultural correlates of sexting motivations
As suggested by Walrave et al. (2014), the willingness to engage in sexting is inuenced by not only intraindividual factors but
also extra individual factorssuch as perceived social pressure and subjective norms, shaped by peer groups' approval. Recently, the
social cognitive theory (SCT; Bandura, 2001)has also been applied to study the eects of media contents on individual cognitive
processes. According to the SCT, social behaviors and cognitive processes are shaped in interactions with the social environment. As
stated by van Oosten and Vandenbosch (2017) and in line with the SCT (Bandura, 2001), the individuals' observations of peers and
media models could inuence their attitudes and beliefs on a specic behavior; could shape their thoughts, aects, and actions; and
consequently, could aect both behaviors and cognitions.
Within this theoretical framework, sexting behaviors and motivations are closely linked to other social contexts including peers
and the media. According to Ringrose, Gill, Livingstone, and Harvey (2012), sexting can be interpreted as an expression of a sex-
ualized culture which implies the sexual objectication of bodies through the sexualized images and models proposed in mainstream
media. Moreover, the sexual objectication of bodies also leads to early sexual debut (Lerum & Dworkin, 2009; Pearson, Kholodkov,
Henson, & Impett, 2012). Previous studies (Schick et al., 2010; Woertman & van den Brink, 2012) have also found that body sa-
tisfaction and body self-esteem, both in general and in sexual contexts, were indexes of normal and adaptive sexual functioning in
Literature described body objectication as the internalization of an external gaze on one's body and the evaluation of the body as
an object that needs to adapt to sociocultural standards (Fredrickson & Roberts, 1997; McKinley & Hyde, 1996). Some individuals
who are more sensitive to sociocultural and media models perceive higher pressure from these standards, leading to a higher ob-
jectied-body consciousness (McKinley & Hyde, 1996). The objectied-body consciousness was dened by McKinley and Hyde
(1996) as tendencies to consider one's body as an object under others' evaluation and to believe that one's body should conform to
sociocultural standards. According to McKinley and Hyde (1996) this phenomenon is characterized by perceived shame and sur-
veillance about own body, and by beliefs of control about appearance. During adolescence, people are more likely to develop body
self-objectication because it arises from pubertal changes and increased peer attention (Lindberg, Grabe, & Hyde, 2007). There are
high levels of body objectication in young people with a history of peer sexual harassment, which undermined their value as sexual
partners and constituted a rst experience of sexual objectication (Lindberg et al., 2007). Girls have been considered more sensitive
than boys to body objectication due to sociocultural pressure to adapt to idealized models of beauty and thinness (Grabe,
Hyde, & Lindberg, 2007; Tiggemann & Kuring, 2004). However, a recent study (Daniel & Bridges, 2010) found that boys are also
D. Bianchi et al. Journal of Adolescence 61 (2017) 164–172
highly exposed to sociocultural and media pressure, specically related to muscularity ideals, and research with adolescents has not
found gender dierences in issues related to body objectication, media models, and perceived pressure about the adolescents' bodies
(Knauss, Paxton, & Alsaker, 2008). Individuals with high levels of body objectication show more body dissatisfaction (Knauss et al.,
2008) and address their body concerns with negative coping strategies, such as avoidance or continued eorts to change one's
appearance; on the contrary, positive coping strategies, such as self-care or rational acceptance, are negatively related to body
objectication (Choma, Shove, Busseri, Sadava, & Hosker, 2009). The objectied-body consciousness can lead to negative outcomes
for well-beingsuch as higher negative aection (Miner-Rubino, Twenge, & Fredrickson, 2002), sexual impairment (Wiederman,
2000), rumination, and depression (Grabe et al., 2007).
Body self-esteem has been conceived in the literature (Mendelson, Mendelson, & White, 2001) as a multidimensional construct.
One of its dimensions refers to other people's evaluations of one's appearance, and it was named the body-esteem attribution, a
concept similar to the objectied-body consciousness; both of them refer to a facet of self-esteem dependent on an external point of
view and imply the sociocultural model's inuence. Moreover, mass-media models aect adolescents' perceptions about their ideal
body image, helping them to face developmental tasks related to body image and identity construction (Ata, Ludden, & Lally, 2007).
This process seems to take place actively because adolescents seek information and models in television and media, but it also seems
to take place by mere exposure to media contents (Harrison & Hefner, 2006). Thus, during adolescence, issues related to body
changes, sexuality exploration, and identity construction seem to be associated with several individual, social, and media inuences.
1.2. Individual dierences in sexting motivations
Therefore, in line with the SCT (Bandura, 2001), we aimed to investigate how body-esteem attribution, body objectication, and
the internalization of media models are related to dierent sexting motivations, controlling for sociodemographic variablesgender,
age, and sexual orientation. Gender dierences in sexting behaviors and motivations have been broadly described in the literature:
Boys were found to be more likely than girls to engage in online sexual behaviors and risky sexual behaviors (Bongers, Koot, Van der
Ende, & Verhulst, 2003; Jonsson, Priebe, Bladh, & Svedin, 2014) and to report more instrumental/aggravated motivations (Bianchi
et al., 2016, 2017). Conversely, girls (vs. boys) are more likely to sext under pressure from partners and friends (Drouin & Tobin,
2014; Henderson & Morgan, 2011; Lippman & Campbell, 2014) or to sext to gain the attention of a potential partner and increase
their popularity among their peers (Bianchi et al., 2017; Lippman & Campbell, 2014).
Regarding age dierences, sexting behaviors increase with age (Dake, Price, Maziarz, & Ward, 2012; Rice et al., 2012; Strassberg,
McKinnon, Sustaita, & Rullo, 2013), and young adults report more sexual motivations for sexting (Bianchi et al., 2017; National
Campaign & CosmoGirl, 2008).
Finally, research has also shown sexual orientation dierences, with sexual minority people, mostly gay men, reporting more
sexting behaviors than their heterosexual counterparts do (Gámez Guadix, Almendros, Borrajo, & Calvete, 2015; Morelli et al., 2016a;
Rice et al., 2012). Some studies (Bauermeister, Yeagley, Meanley, & Pingel, 2014; Chong, Zhang, Mak, & Pang, 2015; Rice et al.,
2012) suggest that sexual minorities engage in a greater use of online environments for exploring their sexuality and meeting partners
and that same-sex couples found sexting more acceptable than heterosexual ones (Chong et al., 2015; Hertlein, Shadid, & Steelman,
2015). As theorized by the minority stress model (Meyer, 2003), new technologies appeared to facilitate relationships and com-
munication among sexual minoritiesworking as protective factors against the social stigma, prejudice, and discrimination that
aect the psychological and relational well-being of sexual minorities.
2. Aims and hypotheses
Considering the abovementioned literature we aimed to examine the contributions of body esteem, objectied-body conscious-
ness, and the internalization of media models to sexting motivations among adolescents, beyond the documented eects of gender,
age, and sexual orientation. Because of the sexual double standard (Ringrose, Harvey, Gill, & Livingstone, 2013), we expected an
eect of gender on sexting motivations related to instrumental/aggravated reasons, which appear more frequently with boys (vs.
Due to the role of sexting as a precursor to sexual activity during development (Temple & Choi, 2014), we also expected that
sexual motivations related to sexual aims could be reported more often by young adults (vs. adolescents). Finally, in line with the
minority stress model (Meyer, 2003), we expected an eect of sexual orientation on sexual purposes; we specically hypothesized
that sexual minorities would show more sexual purposes than the heterosexual participants would.
However, beyond the eect of these variables that we controlled for as covariates, we hypothesized that sexting for sexual
purposes is predicted by body-esteem attribution and body objectication, in line with the previous literature (Schick et al., 2010;
Woertman & van den Brink, 2012). Moreover, we hypothesized that sexting for body-image reinforcement (i.e., achieving peers'
conrmation about body adequacy) is predicted by the internalization of cultural and media models of idealized bodies. The com-
parison with idealized models provided by the media could make facing the developmental tasks related to the redenition and
acceptance of one's body image harder, increasing concerns of body adequacy among teenagers. Thus, sexting could become a new
vehicle for facing concerns about body image because the positive feedback from peers and potential partners works as a con-
rmation of body adequacy, as suggested in previous studies (Chalfen, 2009; Siibak, 2009). Conversely, regarding sexting for in-
strumental/aggravated reasons (i.e., secondary aims and harmful intentions), we did not expect any relationship with body-esteem
attribution, body objectication, or the internalization of media models.
D. Bianchi et al. Journal of Adolescence 61 (2017) 164–172
3. Methods
3.1. Participants
The original sample included 257 participants aged from 13 to 20 (M
= 17.6; SD
= 1.9; 46.3% females). Only participants
who sent sexts at least once during the last year were selected to take part to the study (N= 190). Thus, the participants included in
the present study were 190 Italian adolescents aged from 13 to 20 (M
= 17.4; SD
= 1.8; 44.7% females) and were recruited in
secondary schools in urban and suburban areas of Rome. Regarding their sexual orientation, the majority of participants were
exclusively heterosexual (80.5%; n= 153). We conducted the data collection via an online survey because of research suggesting that
sensitive information is more candidly reported if the assessment is conducted via computer or online rather than via paper-and-
pencil questionnaires (Clark Newman et al., 2002). For underage participants, informed-consent forms were obtained from parents
and school authorities. All participants gave their informed consent in accordance with the Declaration of Helsinki. The Ethics
Committee of the Department of Social and Developmental Psychology of Sapienza University of Rome approved this study.
3.2. Measures
3.2.1. Sociodemographic data
We asked the participants about some demographic data such as age, gender, and sexual orientation. We assessed sexual or-
ientation through the Kinsey Scale (Kinsey, Pomeroy, & Martin, 1948) on a 5-point Likert scale, from 1 (exclusively heterosexual) to 5
(exclusively homosexual). We then categorized the participants into two groups according to their answers: a group of exclusively
heterosexual adolescents who answered 1 and a group of not exclusively heterosexual adolescents who answered from 2 to 5.
3.2.2. Motivations for sexting
The Sexting Motivation Questionnaire (Bianchi et al., 2016) assessed motivations for sending sexts. Sexting was dened as the
exchange of sexually suggestive or provocative text messages, photos, or videos by smartphone, the Internet, or social network
websites (Chalfen, 2009). The instrument, composed of 13 items rated on a 5-point Likert scale from 0 (Never) to 4 (Always), assessed
three motivations for sending sexts: a) sexual purposes, which refers to the sending of sexts for sexual aims (ve items; e.g.,
Sometimes I sext for irting or hooking up); b) body-image reinforcement, which refers to the use of sexting in order to get social
reinforcement about the adequacy of one's body (three items; e.g., Sometimes I sext to test if I am pretty enough); or c) instru-
mental/aggravated reasons, which refer to the use of sexting for secondary aims not related to sexuality (ve items; e.g., Sometimes I
sext in exchange for money or gifts). The three dimensions showed good reliabilitywith a Cronbach's alpha of 0.87 for sexual
purposes, 0.89 for body-image reinforcement, and 0.86 for instrumental/aggravated reasons.
3.2.3. Body-esteem attribution
The Attribution subscale from the Body Esteem Scale (BES, Confalonieri, Gatti, Ionio, & Tracante, 2008; Mendelson et al., 2001)
was used to assess a specic dimension of body esteem that is related to evaluations attributed to other people about one's body. This
dimension included four items rated on a 5-point Likert scale from 1 (Never) to 5 (Always); a sample item is My looks help me get
dates.In the present study, the Attribution subscale showed a moderate reliability (α= 0.64).
3.2.4. Objectied body consciousness
The 14-item version of the Objectied-Body Consciousness Scale for Youth (Lindberg, Hyde, & McKinley, 2006) evaluated the
objectied-body consciousness (McKinley & Hyde, 1996). The scale evaluated body surveillance, body shame, and appearance-
control beliefs. A sample item was I often compare how I look with how other people look.Participants rated each item on a 7-point
Likert scale from 1 (strongly disagree) to 7 (strongly agree). In this study, the scale showed a good reliability (α= 0.74).
3.2.5. Internalization of sociocultural and media models
In order to assess the inuence of sociocultural and mass media ideals on body evaluation, we selected four items from the
Sociocultural Attitudes Toward Appearance Questionnaire (Stefanile, Matera, Nerini, & Pisani, 2011; Thompson, van den Berg,
Roehrig, Guarda, & Heinberg, 2004) in order to investigate the internalization of beauty ideals and athletic body ideals provided by
the mass media (e.g., I compare my appearance to the appearance of TV and movie stars). The participants rated their answers on a
5-point Likert scale from 1 (Completely disagree) to 5 (Completely agree), and we computed a total score. The scale reached a
Cronbach's alpha of 0.78.
3.3. Data analysis
First, we computed correlations among all of variables included in the study. For descriptive purposes, we ran two independent
sample t-tests only for the categorical variables in order to verify gender and sexual orientation dierences in sexting motivations, and
we computed the Cohen's das eect sizes. Then, we ran three hierarchical-regression analyses in order to investigate whether body-
esteem attribution, objectied-body consciousness, and the internalization of sociocultural and media models could dierently
predict the motivations for sending sexts (i.e., sexual purposes, body-image reinforcement, and instrumental/aggravated reason-
s)controlling for age, gender, and sexual orientation. In the rst step of each regression, we included gender, age, and sexual
D. Bianchi et al. Journal of Adolescence 61 (2017) 164–172
orientation as covariates. In the second step, we regressed the criterion on body-esteem attribution, objectied-body consciousness,
and the internalization of sociocultural and media models.
4. Results
4.1. Correlations among variables
Gender appeared related only to instrumental/aggravated reasons, which were reported more by males (vs. females), whereas age
appeared positively related only to sexual purposes, which were reported more by older adolescents (vs. younger). Sexual orientation,
too, was moderately related only to sexual purposes, which were more reported by not exclusively heterosexual participants (vs.
heterosexuals). Body-esteem attribution and objectied-body consciousness appeared modestly and positively related to both sexual
purposes and body-image reinforcement. Finally, the internalization of sociocultural and media models appeared to be positively and
modestly related to body-image reinforcement. The correlations and descriptive statistics are reported in Table 1.
Regarding the categorical variables, we found signicant gender dierences only for instrumental/aggravated reasonst
(188) = 2.84, p< 0.01, Cohen's d= 0.29. Males reported more instrumental/aggravated reasons than females did, conrming the
correlations. We found signicant sexual orientation dierences only for sexual purposest(188) = 3.37, p< 0.01, Cohen's
d= 0.62. Participants who were not exclusively heterosexual reported more sexual purposes than their exclusively heterosexual
counterparts did, conrming correlations.
4.2. Hierarchical-regression analyses
We conducted three hierarchical-regression analyses by following the previously described procedure to determine whether body-
esteem attribution, objectied-body consciousness, and the internalization of sociocultural and media models predict sexual pur-
poses, body-image reinforcement, and instrumental/aggravated reasons, respectively, as motivations for sending sextscontrolling
Table 1
Correlations among variables.
1 23456789MSD
1.Gender 1 ––
2.Age 0.147* 1 17.04 1.76
3.Sexual Orientation 0.253** 0.132 1 ––
4.BES 0.180* 0.046 0.032 1 12.01 3.05
5.OBC 0.363** 0.098 0.113 0.070 1 61.97 13.24
6.ISMM 0.124 0.081 0.067 0.165* 0.529** 1 11.37 4.21
7.Sexual purposes 0.121 0.224** 0.239** 0.237** 0.224** 0.124 1 2.32 1.07
8.Body image reinforcement 0.026 0.051 0.098 0.146* 0.188** 0.285** 0.580** 1 1.80 0.93
9.Instrumental/aggravated reasons 0.203** 0.059 0.020 0.065 0.099 0.063 0.151* 0.037 1 1.13 0.44
Note 1: **p< 0.01; *p< 0.05; Gender was coded as 0 = Males and 1 = Females. Sexual orientation was coded as 0 = exclusively heterosexuals and 1 = not
exclusively heterosexuals; BES = Body Esteem Scale Attribution; OBC = Objectied Body Consciousness; ISMM = Internalization of socio cultural and media models.
Table 2
Hierarchical-regression analyses (N= 190).
Predictor Sexting motivations
Sexual purposes Body image reinforcement Instrumental/aggravated reasons
Step 1 0.10*** 0.01 0.05*
Gender 0.45 0.78 0.04 0.02 0.43 0.003 0.95* 0.33 0.22**
Age 0.58** 0.21 0.19** 0.06 0.12 0.04 0.05 0.09 0.04
Sexual Orientation 2.74** 0.98 0.20** 0.66 0.53 0.09 0.44 0.41 0.08
Step 2 0.09*** 0.09** 0.003
Gender 0.32 0.81 0.03 0.17 0.45 0.03 0.20* 2.46 0.20*
Age 0.58** 0.21 0.19** 0.04 0.11 0.02 0.03 0.46 0.03
Sexual Orientation 2.7** 0.93 0.20** 0.59 0.51 0.08 0.08 1.08 0.08
BES 0.44** 0.12 0.25*** 0.09 0.07 0.10 0.04 0.49 0.04
OBC 0.07* 0.03 0.18* 0.01 0.02 0.06 0.01 0.15 0.01
ISMM 0.06 0.10 0.04 0.16** 0.06 0.23** 0.04 0.46 0.04
Total R
0.19*** 0.10** 0.05
Note. *p < 0.05; **p < 0.01 ***p < 0.001. Gender was coded as 0 = Males and 1 = Females. Sexual orientation was coded as 0 = exclusively heterosexuals and
1 = not exclusively heterosexuals; BES = Body Esteem Scale Attribution; OBC = Objectied Body Consciousness; ISMM = Internalization of socio cultural and media
models. Interaction eects between each predictor (BES, OBC and ISMM) and gender were also tested, but no signicant interaction eects were found.
D. Bianchi et al. Journal of Adolescence 61 (2017) 164–172
for gender, age, and sexual orientation. Regarding the rst hierarchical regression analysis in which we predicted sexual purposes,
the predictorsgender, age, and sexual orientationentered in the rst step as covariates and accounted for 9.6% of the variance
(Table 2).
Both age and sexual orientation emerged as signicant predictors, with older adolescents (vs. younger) and people who were not
exclusively heterosexual (vs. exclusively heterosexual) reporting more sexual purposes. In the second stepin which we added body-
esteem attribution, objectied-body consciousness, and the internalization of sociocultural and media models to the equa-
tion18.7% of the variance was accounted for, with a signicant increment of 9.1% in the explained variance [ΔF[3, 183] = 6.84;
p= 0.000]. Age and sexual orientation were still signicant predictors but, controlling for these variables, body-esteem attribution,
and objectied body consciousness turned out to be signicant predictors of sexual purposes.
Regarding the second hierarchical-regression analysis, body-image reinforcement was regressed on the predictors gender, age,
and sexual orientation entered in the rst step. These predictors were revealed to not be signicant covariates, accounting for only
1.1% of the variance. In the second step, body-esteem attribution, objectied-body consciousness, and the internalization of socio-
cultural and media models were added to the equation, and 10.1% of the variance was accounted for, with a signicant increment of
9% in the explained variance [ΔF(3, 183) = 6.07; p= 0.001]. Only the internalization of sociocultural and media models turned out
to be a signicant predictor of body-image reinforcement.
Finally, regarding the third hierarchical-regression analysis, instrumental/aggravated reasons were regressed on the predictors
gender, age and sexual orientation, entered in the rst step as covariates. They accounted for 4.8% of the variance. Only gender
emerged as a signicant predictor, with boys (vs. girls) reporting more instrumental/aggravated reasons. In the second stepin
which body-esteem attribution, objectied-body consciousness, and the internalization of sociocultural and media models were
added to the equationonly the 5.1% of the variance was accounted for, and this increment of 0.3% in the explained variance was
not signicant [ΔF(3, 183) = 0.18, p=ns]. Thus, body-esteem attribution, objectied-body consciousness, and the internalization of
sociocultural and media models did not emerge as signicant predictors of instrumental/aggravated reasons.
5. Discussion
In this study, we investigated sexting motivations during adolescencedistinguishing between developmental issues, such as
sexual aims and body-image reinforcement, and more deviant or harmful motivations, such as instrumental/aggravated reasons.
Specically, we aimed to verify the relevance of body esteem, the objectied-body consciousness, and the internalization of socio-
cultural and media models in predicting dierent sexting motivations. We also controlled for gender, age, and sexual orientation.
In line with our hypotheses, results on demographic variables showed that older adolescents and not exclusively heterosexual
participants were more likely to report sexual purposes as motivations for sending sexts. In recent literature (National
Campaign & CosmoGirl, 2008), sexting for sexual purposes increased with age, becoming the most reported sexting motivation among
young adults (Bianchi et al., 2016; 2017). A longitudinal study (Temple & Choi, 2014) showed that engaging in sexting leads to earlier
sexual activity, working as a precursor of sexual initiation. Thus, we pose that older adolescents have learned during their previous
experiences that sexting facilitates sexual intercourse and that they can purposely use it for sexual aims. Moreover, adolescents who
were not exclusively heterosexual reported more sexual purposes for engaging in sexting, conrming previous literature about the
higher acceptance of sexting among same-sex couples (Chong et al., 2015; Hertlein et al., 2015) and the greater use of online and
mobile communication for meeting partners among sexual minorities (Bauermeister et al., 2014; Chong et al., 2015; Rice et al.,
2012). This result can be explained by the facilitating role of new media communication in friendship and dating relationships among
sexual minorities; online environments allow them to meet friends and potential partners and to express and explore their sexualities
and identitiesproviding the perception of safeness from social stigma and discrimination and working as a protective factor for
relational and psychological well-being among sexual minorities (Meyer, 2003).
Beyond the eects of age and sexual orientation, body-esteem attribution and objectied-body consciousness predicted sexting for
sexual purposes. Thus, regarding body-esteem attribution, our results showed that adolescents who sext for sexual purposes had a
body self-esteem that was strongly dependent on others' supposed evaluations of their bodies. It is conceivable that this use of sexting
during adolescence implies the belief that, in order to engage in sexual intercourse, it is important to be well evaluated by a potential
partner, on whom the adolescent's self-esteem is dependent. Sexting for sexual purposes appeared to also imply body objectica-
tionwhich was composed of shame, concerns, and unrealistic beliefs of control about body appearance. Body objectication re-
ferred to belief of the body as an object that is evaluated according to cultural and sexualized standards and is perceived to belong less
to the self and more to others (Fredrickson & Roberts, 1997). Sexual objectication of the body in the literature has been related to a
general impairment of sexual functioning and sexual satisfactionleading to more social and sexual avoidance, higher sexual
anxiety, less sexual assertiveness, and lower sexual self-esteem (Calogero & Thompson, 2009; Sanchez & Kiefer, 2007;
Steer & Tiggemann, 2008; Wiederman, 2000; Yamamiya, Cash, & Thompson, 2006). Thus, adolescents with high body objectication
are also more concerned about sexuality and sexual intercourse, experiencing them with more anxiety and less assertiveness. Con-
sequently, it is understandable how sexting could be a good vehicle for experiencing sexuality because it ensures control of body
image, provides more emotional disengagement, and helps the sender to be more assertive, in spite of the anxiety related to body and
sexual adequacy (Weisskirch & Delevi, 2011). A previous study on online behaviors (Suler, 2004) suggested that the characteristics of
the online dimension allow more emotional and moral disengagement.
Thus, when these body-image concerns are high, our results suggested that sexting could be a rst expression of sexuality during
adolescence, simultaneously guaranteeing control over body disclosure and testing the partner's response. These ndings seem to
explain how sexting becomes a way of addressing developmental goals related to sexuality initiation and exploration, mostly for
D. Bianchi et al. Journal of Adolescence 61 (2017) 164–172
teenagers more concerned about body and sexual adequacy. These results are also consistent with the stimulation hypothesis
(Valkenburg & Peter, 2007; Valkenburg, Peter, & Schouten, 2006), which shows how media-based communication could improve self-
esteem and well-being due to positive feedback from peers.
In line with the SCT (Bandura, 2001), our results also indicated that sexting for body-image reinforcement appears to be predicted
by the internalization of mass-media models, after we controlled for demographic variables. These ndings suggest that, when young
people are used to compare their bodies with idealized and unrealistic media models, they are also more likely to engage in sexting to
receive conrmation about the adequacy of their bodies, probably thinking their bodies should be in line with media standards of
beauty and sexuality. These results are not aected by gender, age, and sexual orientationshowing how the eect of the inter-
nalization of media models on this sexting motivation is similar for males and females from early to late adolescence regardless to
sexual orientation. Sexting in this case may become an expression of a teen's developmental task, as suggested in our previous work
(Bianchi et al., 2017). It could also be an expression of a cultural issue related to comparisons with media modelsgenerally aecting
teens with higher appearance investment (Hargreaves & Tiggemann, 2004).
Finally, regarding instrumental/aggravated reasons for sexting, our results showed that they were more frequently reported by
males, which is consistent with previous literature (Morelli, Bianchi, Baiocco, Pezzuti, & Chirumbolo, 2016c; Romer & Hennessy,
2007) that found risky sexual behaviors more frequently among boys (vs. girls). After we controlled for demographic variables, none
of the body-image variables that we investigated were predictive of instrumental/aggravated motivations. Actually, our previous
work (Bianchi et al., 2016) showed that instrumental/aggravated sexting motivations were related to aggravated sexting behaviors,
such as not allowed sharing of sexts, suggesting the presence of other underlying variables, such as antisocial personality traits, that
future research should investigate.
This study has signicant research implications, as it conrms the importance of taking into account the roles of cultural context
and developmental stages as antecedents of sexting for sexual aims and body-image conrmation. Some of the relevant research
implications are also related to instrumental and aggravated sexting motivations, the antecedents of which should be deeply in-
vestigated. In other work (Bianchi et al., 2016, 2017) we documented the low prevalence of this sexting motivation but pointed out
its high-risk consequences, which are related to cyber aggression and the exploitation of sexual contents. Because of the low pre-
valence of this motivation, it is conceivable that this dimension could characterize specic high-risk samples regardless of socio-
cultural issues, which deserves further studies. For example, Romer, Reyna, and Satterthwaite (2017) found that maladaptive ten-
dencies toward sensation seeking and impulsive action are typical of young people with weak control over limbic motivation.
Moreover, further studies are needed to explore whether instrumental/aggravated sexting motivations are more strongly related to
the tendency to aggress toward peers and partners than sexual and body image motivations are. It is also conceivable that sexual and
body-image motivations for sexting could expose young people to suer cyber-victimization and other forms of violence, but it is
possible that only instrumental/aggravated motivations could be indicators of the tendencies to perpetrate aggression and cyber-
aggression. Thus, research should investigate the inuence of dierent individual and contextual variables in this process.
Our ndings also have clinical and educational implications. In consideration of the harmful and risky consequences of an unwise
use of sexting, prevention programs should be directed toward adolescents and preadolescents, as they are specic at-risk groups for
sociocultural pressure and concerns about body image. These educational programs should focus on improving knowledge of sexual
development and pubertal changes and deconstructing the idealized body image presented in the mediapaying particular attention
to the needs of specic vulnerable groups such sexual minorities, as suggested by our ndings and previous literature. Specic
education programs aimed at deconstructing gender stereotypes and media ideals could be useful in the prevention of sexting for
sexual purposes and body-image reinforcement. Conversely, increasing awareness about specic features of online contexts, such as
the false sense of privacy and easiness of disinhibition and aggressions, could be used to prevent sexting for instrumental and
aggravated reasons. Adolescents could also benet from interventions based on considerations of future consequences, with an
emphasis on problem solving and improving interpersonal sensitivity and empathy. Educational and prevention programs for specic
at-risk groups should be implemented with consideration for the higher prevalence of instrumental/aggravated motivations among
boys. These programs should focus on improving impulse control and awareness of risky behaviors, as suggested by recent neu-
roscience studies on risk-taking during adolescence (Romer et al., 2017; Shulman, Harden, Chein, & Steinberg, 2015). Regarding
clinical implications, brief screenings on adolescents could consider body-image concerns as a possible index of a normative use of
sexting, with requests for clinical attention only in the presence of a severe impairment of body image. Thus, our ndings sustain the
interpretation of sexting as a common, normative behavior during adolescence that could support developmental goals and that
would deserve further attention only in the presence of specic high-risk motivations.
Nevertheless, the limitations of this study are related to the use of self-report instruments, which are usually aected by social
desirability when sensitive information is investigated. Specically, the null ndings related to instrumental/aggravated reasons
could be due to both the low frequency of this specic motivation and the tendency to underreport these answers for social desir-
ability. Moreover, our results could be aected by the cultural context. As suggested by a recent cross-cultural study on sexting
behaviors (Baumgartner, Sumter, Peter, Valkenburg, & Livingstone, 2014), attitudes and behaviors are shaped by cultural values and
spread by relevant social institutionssuch as families, schools, and the media. Thus, future cross-cultural studies about sexting
motivations should be conducted in order to conrm these results, taking into account the roles of traditionalism (Baumgartner et al.,
2014) and post-feminist media culture (Ringrose et al., 2013). Specically, it is conceivable that gendered values in traditionalist
cultures could explain gender dierences in sexting behaviors and motivations.
Finally, the study was cross sectional. Thus, we cannot infer causal but rather correlational relationships. Future longitudinal
studies should explore the causal relationships between body-image variables and sexting motivations during adolescence.
D. Bianchi et al. Journal of Adolescence 61 (2017) 164–172
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... Consensual sending of sexts among adolescents is considered normative (Bianchi et al., 2017). However, this behavior may also entail adverse consequences including poor mental health, reputational damage, in-person and online victimization, and potentially even legal ramifications (Doyle et al., 2021;Krieger 2017a). ...
... The behavior can entail sending, receiving, and forwarding of sexual content (typically encompassing texts, images, or videos) via electronic means, and can range from consensual to non-consensual in nature (Barroso et al., 2023;Klettke et al., 2019). While consensual sexting is perceived to be a normative expression of young persons' sexual repertoire (Levine, 2013) and a need for intimacy or validation (Bianchi et al., 2017), non-consensual sexting can be considered potentially harmful. The latter encompasses sexting behaviors performed under pressure, coercion, or threat, instances when a person is exposed to sexual material unwillingly/without their consent, or when their sexual image or text is distributed to the audiences beyond the intended recipients (Laird et al., 2021). ...
... Although the consensual sending of sexts is often considered developmentally appropriate among adolescents (Bianchi et al., 2017), it can be associated with mental health and social problems (Doyle et al., 2021), and even legal repercussions (Strasburger et al., 2019). Current research on sexting among young persons is lacking a comprehensive framework that Fifty participants did not provide responses to the sexting question ***p < .001 ...
Full-text available
Although consensual sending of sexts between adolescents is considered developmentally appropriate, it may also entail a range of negative consequences. Current sexting research lacks a comprehensive theoretical framework identifying a range of risk and protective factors underpinning adolescent consensual sending of sexts across individual, interpersonal, and distal levels. Further, there is a lack of systematic evaluation of how the importance of these factors may vary across adolescent age. This study investigated the utility of the Social Development Model to predict a range of risk and protective factors across individual, family, peer, school, and community-level factors. The sample included 1302 teenagers from Victoria, Australia (Mage = 14.54, SD = 1.14, 50.8% girls). Results indicated that 146 (11.7%) participants sent a sext (76 boys and 70 girls). Logistic regression analyses revealed that the Social Development Model accounted for 45.8% of variance in sexting, with greater likelihood of sending sexts being associated with older age, prior sexual activity, school sector, physical activity, lifetime substance use, greater depressive symptoms, sensation seeking, and perceived substance availability in the community. Multigroup analyses revealed that lifetime substance use was associated with a greater likelihood of sending sexts among younger teens. Among older adolescents, adaptive coping was associated with reduced engagement in sexting, while higher parental overcontrol and family conflict increased the odds of sending sexts. Overall, sexting is associated with a range of modifiable factors potentially amenable to intervention.
... To gain an in-depth understanding of the phenomenon, in all its complexity, Wolak et al. (2012) distinguished between "aggravated sexting," which involves criminality or abusive elements and "experimental sexting," which stems from flirting and romantic motives (Wolak et al., 2012). Subsequently, the research literature sought to clarify the distinction between the various types of motivations for sexting and between different sexting behaviors (Bianchi et al., 2017;Bianchi et al., 2021;Bianchi et al., 2021a). Studies identified three main motivations for sexting: sexual, related to body image, and instrumental. ...
... Another reason is the desire to present a sexy body image and receive feedback on the appearance of the sender Burkett, 2015). An Italian study found that adolescents who are accustomed to comparing their bodies with idealized and unrealistic representations portrayed in the media are more inclined to participate in sexting as a means of seeking validation of the adequacy of their own bodies (Bianchi et al., 2017). Instrumental reasons have to do with receiving payment for the photos or sending the sexting messages in response to pressure from the recipient (Dolev-Cohen, 2023;Kopecký, 2012;Walker et al., 2013). ...
Sexting (sexual correspondence based on text or images) is a behavior that in principle is considered normative in the literature as an expression of sexuality in the online space. At the same time, the phenomenon carries risks because it takes place on the Internet and allows its dissemination. It may also be the result of such risk when it is carried out for instrumental motives such as the desire to receive payment. The present study tested the association between sexting motives and behavior as a function of parental and peers' roles to deepen our knowledge of the sexting phenomenon. Participants included 152 adolescents aged 14–19 (M = 15.57) who engaged in sexting. They completed seven online questionnaires. The findings indicate that when the parents used a strategy of technologically restrictive mediation, sexting behaviors with sexual motivations increased, but the same strategy reduced sexting behaviors when the motivations were instrumental. The study also found that high peer cohesion promoted the association between sexual motives and sexting behaviors. The results of the study can inform the design of sexting education and shape parenting practices.
... This unwanted but "consensual" sexting (see Drouin & Tobin, 2014) occurs at concerning rate among youth probably due to motivation to maintain the relationship (Le, 2021). By Vignette 1 we tried to illustrate gender biases instrumental/aggravated forms of sexting since some studies show that girls are more often exposed to pressure, harassment and threats to sext (Bianchi et al., 2017(Bianchi et al., , 2018Choi et al., 2016;Englander, 2015;Kernsmith et al., 2018;Klettke et al., 2014;Ringrose et al., 2012Ringrose et al., , 2013. ...
... Vignette 3 depicts sexting for a sexual purpose which is the most commonly reported reason for sexting (Bianchi et al., , 2017(Bianchi et al., , 2019. It includes a situation of sexting in long distance relationship in order to improve passion and intimacy. ...
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The purpose of this study was to compare attitudes toward sexting using vignettes. Participants were 49 university students (ages 19-26) who participated in five online focus group discussions and responded to five written vignettes describing sexting. The five vignettes about sexting were composed of five types of sexting experiences: 1) sexting under intimate partner pressure, 2) revenge sexting, 3) consensual sexting with intimate partner, 4) sexting under peer pressure, and 5) sexting to flirt with others. Students gave their opinions on the vignettes presented. Revenge sexting was perceived as a behaviour more negative than any other type of sexting experience. The vignette that depicted sexting with an intimate partner in a long-distance relationship was perceived as the least negative of all types of sexting. The results of this study aim to inspire future studies to use vignettes as a methodological tool to determine youths' attitudes, beliefs, and opinions about sexting.
... Reports of consensual image sharing are more common than aggravated or abusive sharing, particularly among young adults (Bianchi et al., 2016(Bianchi et al., , 2017). Yet, studies identify a continuum of consent, spanning both direct and indirect pressure and coercion (e.g., Cooper et al., 2016;García-Gómez, 2017;Ringrose et al., 2021;Setty, 2019;Thomas, 2018;Thorburn et al., 2021). ...
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There were limited opportunities for in-person social, intimate, and sexual interactions in England during 2020–2021, due to restrictions imposed by the UK government in response to the Covid-19 pandemic. While previous studies examined the effects of lockdown on intimate relationships, there is less qualitative research regarding young people’s perspectives on and experiences of digitally mediated intimacy (sexting) during the period. This paper discusses findings from focus groups with 80 adolescents and interviews with 38 young adults that explored the topic. Analysis identified a normalization of non-consensual distribution of intimate images within adolescent peer culture and a reluctance to report or intervene in response to incidents of non-consensual distribution that are witnessed or experienced. The adolescent girls and young adult women also described other forms of unwanted and invasive image-sharing and requests for images. Young adults held various perspectives on sexting during lockdown, with some describing sexting as unfulfilling and/or “risky” and others sharing experiences of using sexting to generate intimacy and, among some, engaging in unwanted sexting with partners. By considering both adolescent and young adult perspectives obtained through focus groups and interviews, the study highlighted how group-level norms and meanings surrounding the risks and rewards of sexting may be reproduced or reworked as individuals transition from adolescence to young adulthood. The study underscores the need to support adolescents and young adults in cultivating healthy digital sexual cultures and interpersonal relationships.
... Accordingly, body esteem consists of three components: weight, which refers to weight satisfaction; appearance, which includes general feelings about appearance, and finally, attribution, which comprises the evaluation attributed to others about one's own body appearance (Confalonieri et al., 2008;Mendelson et al., 2001). According to Strelan et al. (2003), women who self-objectify might more likely experience reduced body esteem, thus body esteem appears to be similar to self-objectified experiences since a core component of self-evaluation seems to depend on (the internalization of) an external point of view of the self (Bianchi et al., 2017). Therefore, body image-related concerns, body shame, and perceived attributions of others may reinforce poor body esteem and social media content may further worsen body esteem in young women (Davies et al., 2020;Modica, 2019). ...
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In recent years, the centrality of photos on Social Networking Sites (SNSs) dramatically increased among young adults. The particular attention addressed to visual self-presentation might lead to body shame, influencing individuals’ body esteem and, likely, promoting photo manipulation (PM). Indeed, manipulating photos to alter how the body appears might be driven by the need to improve self-esteem and reduce body shame, albeit by digitally modified body image. Consequently, two studies were conducted. Study1 psychometrically evaluated the PM scale in a sample of Italian young adults (N = 922). Study2 verified the direct and indirect effect of body shame on PM, testing the mediating effect of body esteem and the moderating effect of gender (N = 595). The PM scale for young adults showed good psychometric properties. The tested mediation model revealed that body shame was both directly and indirectly associated with PM, via body esteem appearance in both male and female participants and via body esteem attribution among young men (R² = 0.204; p < .001). Implications for young adults’ appearance-related issues are discussed.
... Among the many sources of influence on gender representations, media occupies an important space and its relevance can be assessed across many different phenomena [7][8][9][10][11]. The ubiquity of media, the chronicity of individuals' exposure to it and its role in shaping beliefs, attitudes and expectations have made it the subject of scientific attention. ...
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Media representations play an important role in producing sociocultural pressures. Despite social and legal progress in civil rights, restrictive gender-based representations appear to be still very pervasive in some contexts. The article explores scientific research on the relationship between media representations and gender stereotypes, objectification and sexualization, focusing on their presence in the cultural context. Results show how stereotyping, objectifying and sexualizing representations appear to be still very common across a number of contexts. Exposure to stereotyping representations appears to strengthen beliefs in gender stereotypes and endorsement of gender role norms, as well as fostering sexism, harassment and violence in men and stifling career-related ambitions in women. Exposure to objectifying and sexualizing representations appears to be associated with the internalization of cultural ideals of appearance, endorsement of sexist attitudes and tolerance of abuse and body shame. In turn, factors associated with exposure to these representations have been linked to detrimental effects on physical and psychological well-being, such as eating disorder symptomatology, increased body surveillance and poorer body image quality of life. However, specificities in the pathways from exposure to detrimental effects on well-being are involved for certain populations that warrant further research.
Several studies investigated the relationship between personality traits and sexting behaviors using the Five Factors Model and the HEXACO six-factor personality model. To our knowledge, no study has investigated the relation between trait emotional intelligence and sexting. Therefore, the present study examined the associations between the four factors of trait emotional intelligence (i.e., well-being, self-control, emotionality, and sociability) and different forms of sexting (experimental sexting, non-consensual sexting, sexting under pressure, and risky sexting) in a sample of Italian adolescents. A convenience group of 760 high school students aged 14 to 19 years (Mage = 16.76, SDage = 1.56; 52.6% females) completed an anonymous self-report questionnaire between January and June 2021, and data were analyzed through logistic regression analyses. The main results showed that (1) lower emotionality was related to higher involvement in non-consensual sexting, sexting under pressure, and risky sexting; (2) higher sociability was related to higher involvement in experimental, non-consensual, and risky sexting; (3) lower self-control was related to higher involvement in experimental sexting; and (4) well-being was unrelated to sexting. This study expands knowledge about the relationships between personality and sexting, examining the role of specific dimensions of trait emotional intelligence and various forms of sexting. The study suggests that fostering the ability to express and understand emotions should be the focus of preventive interventions targeting adolescents to contrast aggravated and risky sexting.
Introduction: Sexting among adolescents continues to garner interest across disciplines due to its prevalence in the lives of young people and the potential for extremely negative outcomes associated with the behavior. The present review aimed to integrate the existing qualitative research on adolescent sexting experiences, to provide empirically-supported recommendations for professionals working with adolescents. Methods: A search of four databases relating to adolescent experiences of sexting was conducted, resulting in the inclusion of 28 studies in the review. Quality appraisal of these studies was completed in line with the Critical Appraisal Skills Profile qualitative checklist. Results: Major themes in the qualitative studies were synthesized to generate recommendations for professionals. These recommendations are categorized as (a) "proactive" (enhancing positive and contextualized education and attempting to mitigate the likelihood of young people having negative experiences with sexting), (b) "responsive" (management of disclosures of distressing experiences with sexting, including image-based sexual abuse [IBSA]), and (iii) "clinical" (increasing awareness among clinicians of pertinent issues concerning intervention with young people who are engaging in sexting, or who have been victimized by IBSA). Conclusions: The qualitative literature was found to provide rich insight into adolescent experiences of sexting, thus allowing for the generation of evidence-based recommendations which are consistent with young peoples' own interests and preferences. Limitations in the existing literature base were discussed (e.g., lack of specificity in methodological reporting), and suggestions were given for future research (including the need to explore sexting experiences of LGBTQ + adolescents in more depth).
Adolescent sexting is considered a public health and social issue. Parents may play a fundamental role in shaping their children’s attitudes and behaviours toward sexting. Adolescent attitude toward sexting overall may also be relevant for sexting engagement. The present study aimed to test a conceptual model in which sexting behaviours are explained by parental practices, mediated by adolescents’ attitudes toward sexting, controlling for gender and age. We investigated separately the role of two different mediators: adolescents’ perception of sexting as risky and adolescents’ perception of sexting as fun and carefree. The sample consisted of 507 Italian adolescents aged 14–19. Results suggested that rules on content, parental knowledge, parental control and frequency of communication explained adolescent sexting attitudes or behaviours. Also, adolescents who reported a more favourable attitude toward sexting were more likely to engage in sexting. Results highlighted the fundamental role played by parents in shaping adolescents’ sexting attitudes and behaviours and the importance of adolescents’ attitude toward sexting in shaping sexting behaviours. Findings suggest that parents may play a pivotal role by resorting to effective parental practices of media-mediation and monitoring in order to guide and support their adolescent children in dealing with sexting.
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The social isolation due to the COVID-19 pandemic had an impact on the sexuality and quality of life of people around the world. A particularly negative effect was detected on women’s sexual health. As a consequence, many women began to use social media not only to stay in touch with their social networks, but as a way of maintaining sexual contact. The main aim of this research is to observe the positive effects of sexting in women’s wellbeing as a strategy to manage the negative effects of a condition of forced isolation. We collected all our data between November 2020 and March 2021 during a period of strict restrictions in Italy due to the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic. In Study 1, the relationship between loneliness, sexting behaviors, and sexual satisfaction was tested on 312 adult women. The results showed the mediator role of motivation for sexting in the relationship between loneliness and sexual satisfaction. In Study 2, 342 adult women were organized into two groups (women who had sexting at least once during the second wave of the pandemic = 203, and women who did not have sexting during the pandemic = 139) and were assessed on a couple’s wellbeing (intimacy, passion, commitment, and couple satisfaction) and electronic surveillance. The results show that women who had sexting during isolation had higher scores on intimacy, passion, couple satisfaction, and electronic surveillance. These findings suggest the important role of sexting as an adaptive coping strategy during particular conditions of social isolation.
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Sexting is the exchange of sexually suggestive contents via Internet, Smartphone, and Social Networking Websites. Recently, the research on sexting motivations increased in order to distinguish between experimental and aggravated sexting. This study investigated individual correlates of three sexting motivations: sexual purposes, instrumental/aggravated reasons, and body image reinforcement. The study involved 488 adolescents and young adults aged from 14 to 30 years. Sexual purposes and body image reinforcement were the most commonly reported motivations for sexting. Boys reported more instrumental/aggravated reasons, and sexual minorities reported more sexual purposes and body image reinforcement. Sexual purposes increased with age, while body image reinforcement showed a quadratic trend, increasing from adolescence to early young adulthood, and decreasing from early to late young adulthood. Finally, participants who have already had first sex reported more sexual purposes. Research, clinical and educational implications are discussed.
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Recent neuroscience models of adolescent brain development attribute the morbidity and mortality of this period to structural and functional imbalances between more fully developed limbic regions that subserve reward and emotion as opposed to those that enable cognitive control. We challenge this interpretation of adolescent development by distinguishing risk-taking that peaks during adolescence (sensation seeking and impulsive action) from risk taking that declines monotonically from childhood to adulthood (impulsive choice and other decisions under known risk). Sensation seeking is primarily motivated by exploration of the environment under ambiguous risk contexts, while impulsive action, which is likely to be maladaptive, is more characteristic of a subset of youth with weak control over limbic motivation. Risk taking that declines monotonically from childhood to adulthood occurs primarily under conditions of known risks and reflects increases in executive function as well as aversion to risk based on increases in gist-based reasoning. We propose an alternative Life-span Wisdom Model that highlights the importance of experience gained through exploration during adolescence. We propose, therefore, that brain models that recognize the adaptive roles that cognition and experience play during adolescence provide a more complete and helpful picture of this period of development.
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There has been a lack of research into the motivations for sexting. This study presents a self report instrument, the Sexting Motivations Questionnaire (SMQ), evaluating three sexting motivations: sexual purposes, instrumental/aggravated reasons and body image reinforcement. We also investigated which sexting motivations predict different sexting behaviors, distinguishing between experimental and more harmful sexting. The study involved 509 participants aged from 13 to 35 (Mage = 21.4; SDage = 4.6; 63.7% females) who reported having sent sexts during the last year. Explorative factor analysis revealed three factors: sexual purposes, instrumental/aggravated reasons, and body image reinforcement. The results showed that sexual purposes were the most frequently reported, followed by body image reinforcement, and instrumental/aggravated reasons were reported in low but alarming percentages. Only instrumental/aggravated reasons turned out to predict more harmful sexting behaviors, such as publicly posting own sexts and the socalled ‘not allowed sharing’ of a partner’s sexts. These motivations could lead to aggravated sexting. Our findings confirmed the good reliability and criterion validity of the SMQ, a new instrument for assessing sexting motivations in young people.
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The present study investigated whether engaging in sexy self-presentations on social network sites (SNSs) or exposure to sexy self-presentations on SNSs predicts the willingness to engage in sexting. A second aim of the present study was to investigate whether adolescent girls demonstrate stronger relationships between (exposure to) sexy online self-presentations on SNSs and willingness to sext than adolescent boys and young adult men and women. A two-wave panel survey among 953 Dutch adolescents (13–17 years old, 50.7% male) and 899 Dutch young adults (18–25 years old, 43.9% male) showed that engaging in sexy self-presentations on SNSs increased the willingness to engage in sexting, but only among adolescent girls. Exposure to sexy self-presentations of others did not predict the willingness to engage in sexting. The findings call for more research on the role of gender and age in the link between sexy self-presentation and sexting.
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Sexting is defined as the exchange of provocative or sexually explicit content via smartphone, Internet, or social networks. Previous studies found a relationship between cyber pornography and sexting. The present study aimed to investigate the relationships between sexting, cyber pornography, and alcohol consumption. Previous evidence underlined the disinhibitory effect of alcohol on sexual responsiveness. Therefore, the possible moderating role of alcohol consumption was investigated in the relationship between cyber pornography addiction and sexting. The Sexting Behaviors Questionnaire, the Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test, and the Cyber Pornography Use Inventory were administered to 610 adolescents (63 % females; mean age = 16.8). Boys reported significantly more sexting, alcohol consumption, and cyber pornography addiction than girls. As expected, sexting was robustly correlated with alcohol consumption and cyber pornography. In line with these expectations, we found that the relationship between cyber pornography and sexting was moderated by different level of alcohol consumption. In those who reported low levels of alcohol consumption, the relationship between cyber pornography and sexting was not significant. On the contrary, in those who reported high alcohol consumption, this relationship was stronger and significant. Thus, the results suggest that alcohol restraint could represent a protective factor against engaging in sexting, even in the presence of high cyber pornography addiction.
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Background: Sexting is the exchange of sexually explicit or provocative content (text messages, photos, and videos) via smartphone, Internet, or social networks. Recent evidence enlightened its relationships with several risk and aggressive behaviors. This study aimed to investigate the relationship between the amount of sexting, psychological distress, and dating violence in adolescents and young adults. Method: The study involved 1,334 participants (68% females; mean age = 20.8) who completed a survey containing Kinsey Scale, Sexting Behavior Questionnaire, Conflict in Adolescent Dating Relationships Inventory, and General Health Questionnaire. Results: Results showed gender and sexual orientation differences: Males (vs. females) did more sexting, while non-heterosexuals (vs. heterosexuals) were more involved in sexting. Moreover, high/moderate users of sexting committed more offline and online dating violence. Regarding psychological distress, no differences were found between high and low/moderate users of sexting. Conclusions: Results suggested that moderate and high use of sexting could be a risk factor for some problematic behaviors such as dating violence, even if there is not a relationship with anxiety and depression symptoms.
Carrying forward his inquiry into the nature and conditions of normal and abnormal development, Lichtenberg focuses on motivation. His goal is to offer an alternative to psychoanalytic drive theory that accommodates the developmental insights of infancy research while accounting for the entire range of phenomena addressed by the theory of instinctual drives. To this end, he propounds a comprehensive theory of the self, which then gains expression in five discrete yet interactive motivational systems.