Date of Award

January 2014

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Heather K. Terrell


Sexual assertiveness is a beneficial skill-set for women, which is associated with several positive sexual health outcomes. The goals of the current project were to 1) develop a comprehensive measure of sexual assertiveness that could be used for women across the adult life span, 2) to better understand the predictors of specific dimensions of sexual assertiveness, 3) to investigate differences in the dimensions of sexual assertiveness across age groups, and 4) to examine how the predictors of sexual assertiveness vary by age. In Study 1 and Study 2, a three-factor comprehensive measure of sexual assertiveness was developed. These three factors of sexual assertiveness included the ability to initiate and communicate about desired sex, the ability to refuse unwanted sex, and the ability to communicate about sexual history and risk. In Study 3, women from across the lifespan completed the new measure of sexual assertiveness, as well as several other measures believed to assess the hypothesized predictors of sexual assertiveness. These predictors included sociosexuality, gender roles, risk perception, sex education, sexual assault history, and depression. A path model was tested in which sociosexuality, gender roles, sex education, adulthood sexual assault, and depression all significantly predicted different dimensions of sexual assertiveness and the model fit the data well. Age differences in sexual assertiveness as well as its predictors were also examined. Possible explanations, strengths, weaknesses, and implications for the current findings are discussed.