Year of Award


Document Type


Degree Type

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Degree Name

Counselor Education and Supervision

Department or School/College

College of Education and Human Sciences

Committee Chair

Veronica Johnson

Commitee Members

John Sommers-Flanagan, Cathy Jenni, Kirsten Murray, Patty Kero


University of Montana


This dissertation investigated the relationship between sexual knowledge acquisition components (parents, sex education, religion, peers, siblings, media and pornography) in both learning and experience, age of first learning and first sexual experience, and quality of learning and first sexual experience in correlation to the construct of sexual self-esteem. Participants (N = 195) were college undergraduate students from the University of Montana and Gonzaga University between the ages of 18 and 25. A standard multiple regression analysis was performed, and between groups ANOVA post hoc analyses investigated comparisons of sexual knowledge acquisition components by Sexual Self-Esteem Inventory scores (SSEI) (Zeanah & Schwartz, 1996) and quality of sexual learning scores. The results revealed that the multiple regression model only accounted for 2.8% (R2 = .028) of the variance in SSEI scores. Peers were selected by the majority of participants as their main source of sexual learning and experience. There were no significant differences between specific sources of sexual knowledge and SSEI scores. Post hoc analyses of variance revealed that those who learned about sex from their parents scored significantly higher on ratings of the quality of learning than all other sources of learning. However, participants also indicated that parents were the most absent source of learning next to religion. Implications and future research focus on the need for parents to understand the importance and potential influence they can have when teaching their children about sex. More research is needed on the relationship and effects of peers as the main disseminators of child sexual knowledge acquisition to adult sexual esteem and functioning.



© Copyright 2017 Guy Ray Backlund