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

Claire Wilson, Tommy van Steen, Christabel Akinyode, Zara P. Brodie, Graham G. Scott

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


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.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1410-1429
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of Social and Personal Relationships
Issue number4
Early online date22 Feb 2021
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2021


  • sexting
  • sexting specific beliefs
  • theory of planned behavior


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