Many theories and much research has been conducted on contraception in general,and more recently on condoms in particular, as a result of the AIDS epidemic(Lear, 1995). Condom usage and AIDS education are essential tools for reducingthe impact of the disease, yet fewer than one third of sexually active collegestudents report consistent condom use (Seal & Palmer-Seal, 1996). It seemsthat sexually active individuals rarely discuss safer sex or ask about theirpartner`s sexual activity before engaging in sexual activity (Seal &Palmer-Seal, 1996). This raises some questions as to the origin of the avoidanceof safer sex discussion. It has been found that the interpersonal reactions ofsexual partners, rather than the less direct thoughts of AIDS risk, influenceattitudes towards condoms and condom usage (Casteneda & Collins, 1995).Order now
These personal interactions among partners in a sexual relationship are a resultof attitudes each partner carries about sex, contraception and a sexualrelationship itself. Attitudes can be ascertained by means of person perceptionevaluations, which present the behaviors of a target person (e. g. , introducing acondom) and categorize the social meanings imposed on the actor within thesituation (Castenada & Collins, 1995). In order to accurately evaluate thesocial meanings within a sexual relationship using a person perception paradigm,the paradigm itself, as well as the communication patterns about therelationship and condom usage must be assessed.
Person Perception Paradigm andThis Study The efficacy of the person perception paradigm for accuratelygathering the social meanings implied by certain actions has been proven in pastresearch (Collins & Brief, 1995). It has been ascertained that targetsubject`s behaviors within a vignette are the foundation for impressions theparticipants form about the social meanings of actions. Collins and Brief havegone on to argue that the vignette methodology is better able to collect thesocial meanings derived from actions than interview questions, because oftenimpressions that are formed about another`s actions are not conscious attitudeformations. Behavior interpretation often occur through automatic and intuitivemeans (Collins, 1997; lecture). While most research directly asks participantswhat they think, person perception studies a more subtle means of gaining theparticipants reactions. The current study used a person perception test toevaluate the attitudes of participants about women in a sexual relationship whenshe either proposed a condom, or said nothing about contraception, whileexpressing either concern or saying nothing about her emotional state.
Therewere four different possible types of situations that the male observers couldhave been given: the concerned female who did not propose a condom, theconcerned female who said, I have a condom with me, the female who said nothingand did not propose a condom, and the female who said nothing about heremotional state, but said she had a condom with her. These females were thenevaluated by male observers on various aspects of her perceived personality. Males rated the females on such items as, if they were active or passive, ifthey were promiscuous or not, etc. No other research has addressed a sexualsituation where women talk about their feelings and present a condom in a personperception paradigm.
It will be interesting to see how the male participantsassess the situation. This study used six different scales comprised of separateitems in order to accurately assess the perceptions the male observers heldabout the female targets. The scales were a Sexual attractiveness scale, whichdetermined how sexually attractive the woman was, a Responsibility scale, whichdetermined the extent to which the woman was responsible, a Takes Charge scale,which assessed the male observer`s ideas about how active the women in thesituations were and two other scales which assessed how Nice and Exciting thewoman was. It is hypothesized that there will be high correlations between theseparate items within each of these scales, which indicates that the items willbe measuring similar properties. But there will be low correlations between anytwo scales and between any items and a separate scale, which will indicate thatthe scales were measuring different attributes. Past Research on the PersonPerception Paradigm Past research has found that people do make judgments basedon the contraceptive choices that target persons choose and the conditions theyhave made the choices under, concerning abortion decisions (Allgeier, Allgeier& Rywick, 1979: as cited in McKinney et al.
, 1987). It has also been foundthat contraceptive behavior is evaluated differently by an outside observer thatis exposed to a vignette depicting a sexual situation involving issues ofcontraception, and personal attitudes