To sext or not to sext. The role of social-cognitive processes in the decision to engage in sexting

Wilson, Claire and van Steen, Tommy and Akinyode, Christabel and Brodie, Zara P. and Scott, Graham G. (2021) To sext or not to sext. The role of social-cognitive processes in the decision to engage in sexting. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, 38 (4). pp. 1410-1429. ISSN 0265-4075 (

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Technology has given rise to online behaviors such as sexting. It is important that we examine predictors of such behavior in order to understand who is more likely to sext and thus inform intervention aimed at sexting awareness. We used the Theory of Planned Behavior (TPB) to examine sexting beliefs and behavior. Participants (n = 418; 70.3% women) completed questionnaires assessing attitudes (instrumental and affective), subjective norms (injunctive and descriptive), control perceptions (self-efficacy and controllability) and intentions toward sexting. Specific sexting beliefs (fun/carefree beliefs, perceived risks and relational expectations) were also measured and sexting behavior reported. Relationship status, instrumental attitude, injunctive norm, descriptive norm and self-efficacy were associated with sexting intentions. Relationship status, intentions and self-efficacy related to sexting behavior. Results provide insight into the social-cognitive factors related to individuals' sexting behavior and bring us closer to understanding what beliefs predict the behavior.


Wilson, Claire ORCID logoORCID:, van Steen, Tommy, Akinyode, Christabel, Brodie, Zara P. and Scott, Graham G.;