New study from researchers at University of Georgia suggests condom use sends positive message to partner

relationship and the sexual experience.

The issue of condom use has long perplexed researchers in a number of studies. One research group found in 1992 that only 6 percent of 588 randomly selected undergraduates talked about condom use prior to intercourse. Another study discovered that although some 44 percent of their sample used a condom during their most recent sexual encounter, only 6 percent recalled talking about the use of condoms prior to sex.

One serious problem in understanding the dilemma, obviously, is that it can be conducted only through surveys. Hocking believes the design of his study, with its controls and scientific rigor, give for the first time a serious look at how men and women communicate on issues like condoms prior to sexual encounters.

"The conclusion we found was startling," said doctoral student Don Turk. "If you insist on the use of condoms, your partner will like you better."

Scientists have been divided for years on the validity of research conducted through role playing. But growing evidence, Hocking said, shows that role playing can be a powerful predictor of behavior if it is designed well.

Participants in the study at the University of Georgia took part in one-hour sessions in which those involved were given either a male or female version of a 13-page packet that contained role playing materials. A pilot study with some 20 participants was successful enough to move forward with a full study.

"The pilot study helped us craft our research so that the participants could decide for themselves how long they had been dating their imaginary partner before their first sexual encounter," said Hocking.

The stage was set by having participants read to themselves a scenario in which a male and female student meet, date and decide to have sex. At the point at which sex looks likely, some role-playing booklets made it clear that their partner insisted on using a condoms (for male) or that one be used (fo

Contact: John Hocking
University of Georgia

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