Body image and risky sexual behaviors: An investigation in a tri-ethnic sample

Heather Littleton, Carmen Radecki Breitkopf, Abbey Berenson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

42 Scopus citations


The impact of negative body image on risky sexual behaviors has not been extensively investigated. The present study examined the relationship between two aspects of body image, appearance shame and appearance investment, and potentially risky behaviors. The study employed a tri-ethnic sample of 1547 women seeking services at two family planning clinics. Logistic regression was utilized to examine the relationship between potential risk behaviors and shame and investment. Results supported that these aspects of body image were significant predictors of inconsistent condom use, having multiple sex partners in the past year, and having sex after drinking alcohol or using drugs, and that demographic variables (e.g., age, marital status, ethnicity) could not fully account for these relationships. The importance of future research investigating the relationships among body image, perceived relationship security, affect-management strategies, and risky sexual behaviors is emphasized.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)193-198
Number of pages6
JournalBody Image
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 2005


  • Body image
  • Condom use
  • Sexual behaviors
  • Sexually transmitted infection

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Applied Psychology
  • General Psychology


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