Motivation and emotion/Book/2016/Sexting motivation

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Sexting motivation:
What motivates sexting?

Overview[edit | edit source]

Tinder is a well known medium for sexting

The term Sext is popularly used by the media and according to dictionary.com it can be approximately defined as: send someone sexually explicit photographs or messages via mobile phone. Sexting is a phenomena that seems to have exploded in the past decade along with the widespread use of the internet, social networking, and phones with camera devices. Such a new way of communicating has added a whole new spectrum of complexities to the field of psychology and so far the research has struggled to keep up.

Much of the scientific literature and the media have focused on the negative consequences of this new way of sexual activity, especially in minors (Benotsch, Snipes, Martin, & Bull, 2013). In many jurisdictions around the world the practice of sexting among minors can make parties involved liable for child pornography offences [1](Stromhaimer, Murphey &, DeMatteo, 2014) . Moreover the potential for humiliation and reputational damage as a result of forwarding and sharing practices (especially without consent) can be dire for both minors and adults (Stromhaimer et al., 2014).

Sexting also presents a potential for promoting intimacy. Sexting also may be beneficial as it allows participants to engage in sexual activity without physical and sexual health risks (Parker, Blackburn, Perry &, Hawks, (2013). Given the sheer array of potential consequences of sexting it is hence beneficial to ask what factors motivate people to sext? and who is motivated to sext?.

Different motivations for Boys and Girls Sexting?[edit | edit source]

One of the more well documented findings in relation to sexting, particularly in minors, is the apparent existence of a gendered double standard when it comes to sexting behaviours (Lee & Crofts, 2015). Such that males are more often the recipients of sexual images from females and females are often the senders (Lee & Crofts, 2015)[grammar?][Provide more detail]. Such findings would suggest a general gendered disparity in motivations for engaging in sexting.

Boys and Sexting[edit | edit source]

Motivation for males to engage in sexting may be predominately to gain higher peer status (Lee & Crofts, 2015). As such males may feel inclined to collect sexts as proof of sexual engagement (Lee & Crofts, 2015). As such, sexualised images and the like received by others may be seen as trophies. 

Girls and Sexting[edit | edit source]

In an investigation into sexting by Lippman and Campbell (2014)[2] they found that while girls reported feeling criticised for both sexting and refraining from sexting. However, boys reported no such consequences (Lippman & Campbell, 2014).

Sexting and Relationship Contexts[edit | edit source]

While Sexting is often discussed in the discourse in terms of its negative associations, sexting in the context of a committed relationship may be beneficial. Parker, Blackburn, Perry and Hawks (2013) argued that sexual behaviours other than sexual intercourse could be beneficial in relationships and subsequently found that hedonism was associated with sexting among those in relationships and furthermore a factor labelled consensus (which involves items such as affection, values and decision making) actually predicted sexting. While sexting certainly occurs in the context of casual and even cheating relationships, according much of the survey data available, sexting most often occurs between partners of a committed relationship (Drouin, Vogel, Surbery, & Stills, 2013). As such it is plausible to assert that motivations for sexting do not differ substantially from 'traditional' flirting and romantic affection.

Social Learning Theory and Sexting[edit | edit source]

Sexting: Images sent over sexting risk being shared

Aspects of Aker's Social Learning Theory (SLT) Wikipedia:Social learning theory#Criminology have been applied to sexting behaviours. Van Ouytsel, Ponnet, Walrave and d'Haenens (2016) argued that sexting may be best studied as a deviant behaviour. Van Ouytsel et al., (2016) found in an adolescent sample that sexting was associated with perceived peer approval of sexting and positive attitudes toward the behaviour. These results correspond with the Definitions (opinions one holds toward a behaviour) and Differential Association (peers with whom the individual associates themselves with who set the norms and approval for certain deviant behaviour) aspects of the SLT.

Do Attachment Styles Matter?[edit | edit source]

Attachment styles in adulthood have been found to impact on relationships [3] and recently have been found to contribute for different motivations for sexting. Droin and Tobin (2014) analysed sexting motivations in the context of attachment styles and found that women with the anxious-avoidant attachment style were associated with consenting to sexting in order to avoid an argument or out of loneliness. While such results are certainly a cause for concern, the authors did note that the majority of their sample actually cited flirtation, foreplay and intimacy as the main motivation behind sexting (Drouin & Tobin, 2014)[Provide more detail].

Conclusion[edit | edit source]

Overall, the motivations of sexting appear to be merely regular sexual behaviours that use technology as a medium. Secondly despite the clear risk that sexting carries, especially for the sender, motivation to sext in the context of relationships may prove beneficial. Parallels in motivation to sext in relationships with attachment theory further suggests that motivation for sexting is simply a new way of engaging in sexual communication. Despite some evidence of more malicious intentions for engagement in sexting, such as the gender double standard, such findings may represent a broader cultural issue expressed via sexting practices.

References[edit | edit source]

Benotsch, E. G., Snipes, D. J., Martin, A. M., & Bull, S. S. (2013). Sexting, substance use, and sexual risk behaviour in young adults. The Journal of Adolescent Health: Official Publication of the Society for Adolescent Medicine, 52(3), 307-313. doi:10.1016/j.jadohealth.2012.06.011

Drouin, M., & Tobin, E. (2014). Unwanted but consensual sexting among young adults: Relations with attachment and sexual motivations. Computers in Human Behaviour, 31, 412-418. doi:10.1016/j.chb.2013.11.001

Drouin, M., Vogel, K. N., Surbey, A., & Stills, J. R. (2013). Let's talk about sexting, baby: Computer-mediated sexual behaviors among young adults. Computers in Human Behavior, 29(5), A25-A30. doi:10.1016/j.chb.2012.12.030

Lee, M., & Crofts, T. (2015). Gender, pressure, coercion and pleasure: Untangling motivations for sexting between young people. British Journal of Criminology, 55(3), 454-473. doi:10.1093/bjc/azu075

Lippman, J. & Campbell, S. (2014). Damned If You Do, Damned If You Don't…If You're a Girl: Relational and Normative Contexts of Adolescent Sexting in the United States. Journal Of Children And Media, 8(4), 371-386. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/17482798.2014.923009

Parker, T. S., Blackburn, K. M., Perry, M. S., & Hawks, J. M. (2013). Sexting as an intervention: Relationship satisfaction and motivation considerations. The American Journal of Family Therapy, 41(1), 1-12. doi:10.1080/01926187.2011.635134

Strohmaier, H., Murphy, M., & DeMatteo, D. (2014). Youth sexting: Prevalence rates, driving motivations, and the deterrent effect of legal consequences. Sexuality Research and Social Policy, 11(3), 245-255. doi:10.1007/s13178-014-0162-9

Van Ouytsel, J., Ponnet, K., Walrave, M., & d’Haenens, L. (2017). Adolescent sexting from a social learning perspective. Telematics and Informatics, 34(1), 287-298. doi:10.1016/j.tele.2016.05.009