Journal of Applied Social Psychology

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Volume 32 Issue 9 (September 2002), Pages 1771-1991

The Accuracy of Self‐Reports of Condom Use and Sexual Behavior (pages 1863-1905)

In a study of the accuracy of self‐reports of sexual behavior and condom use, 285 single, young adults in a large metropolitan area were interviewed once a week for 52 weeks, reporting on their sexual behavior each week. At 1‐, 3‐, 6‐, and 12‐month intervals, the individuals also provided self‐reports of the number of times they had engaged in sex and the number of times they had used condoms since they began participating in the study. These self‐reports were compared with aggregates of the weekly data, which served as a comparison standard for accuracy evaluation. The results indicate a fairly high level of accuracy in self‐reports, but with 2% to 5% outliers who are highly inaccurate. The results tend to favor the assessment of sexual behavior over moderate time durations (3 or 6 months) rather than short or long durations (1 month or 12 months) when trying to maximize self‐report accuracy. Accuracy was attenuated for individuals who tended to engage in sex frequently, especially at the 12‐month time durations.

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