It is essential that we gain a clearer understanding of why young adults in Canada may fail to appropriately protect themselves from STI/HIV transmission. Partner familiarity plays an important role in judgements of partner safety. Previous research has indicated that young people believe that unprotected sex with a new/casual partner poses a greater risk than with a regular partner (Crawford, Turtle, & Kippax, 1990). However, a clear distinction must be made between familiar and unfamiliar new partners, as individuals have been shown to rely upon irrelevant factors, such as attractiveness and familiarity, to judge the relative safety of new sexual partners (e.g., Canin, Dolcini, & Adler, 1999; Kelly & Kalichman, 1995; Williams et al.; 1992). The current study aimed to examine the impact of partner familiarity on perceptions of partner appeal and STI transmission risk. Eighty-two undergraduate students (53 women) were presented with eight different vignettes and judged the hypothetical partners presented in each scenario. Vignette partners who were described as being familiar were judged to be more appealing sexually and romantically, more trustworthy, and lower risk for STI transmission. These findings support the idea that familiarity can be established relatively quickly and that familiarity indeed impacts perceptions of new sexual partners, such that individuals may engage in increased risk-taking with more familiar new partners, despite knowing next to nothing about their sexual history. Further, the current findings suggest that partner familiarity is an important dimension to consider when examining sexual risk-taking with casual or new sexual partners.


Additional Information

Print ISSN
pp. 237-242
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
Back To Top

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Without cookies your experience may not be seamless.