Acceptance of Premarital Sex & Homosexuality Are at an All-Time High

Acceptance of premarital sex is at an all-time high along with an acceptance of homosexuality, according to research led by Jean M. Twenge at San Diego State University and published in May 2015 in the Archives of Sexual Behavior.

The researchers, including Ryne Sherman from Florida Atlantic University and Brooke E. Wells from Hunter College in New York City, analyzed data from the General Social Survey, a nationally representative survey of more than 33,000 U.S. adults taken between 1972 and 2012. The team found substantial generational shifts in attitudes toward non-marital sex and number of sexual partners.

A release from San Deigo State University quotes Twenge, who is also the author of “Generation Me”, as saying, “The changes are primarily due to generation — suggesting people develop their sexual attitudes while young, rather than everyone of all ages changing at the same time. This has caused a large generation gap in both attitudes toward premarital sex and number of sexual partners.”

The biggest change was between the Greatest Generation born in the early 1900s and the Boomers born in the 1940s and1950s, though Millennials born in thr1980s and1990s are more accepting of premarital sex than their GenX parents born in the 1960s. After barely changing at all during the 1980s and 1990s, acceptance of premarital sex increased from 42 percent in 2000 to 58 percent in 2012.

Acceptance of same-sex sexual relations more than tripled from 13 percent in 1990 to 44 percent in 2012. Number of sexual partners (controlled for age) also shifted substantially, from 2.16 for the Greatest Generation to 11.68 for Boomers and 8.26 for Millennials.

“Millennials are more accepting of premarital sex than any previous generation, yet have had fewer sexual partners than GenX’ers. This is consistent with their image as a tolerant, individualistic generation accepting others’ choices and making their own,” Twenge said.

Twenge theorizes that these shifts in sexual attitudes and behavior are linked to growing cultural individualism in the U.S. “When the culture places more emphasis on the needs of the self and less on social rules, more relaxed attitudes toward sexuality are the almost inevitable result,” Twenge said.

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