Great sex tied to emotional maturity levels
Andrea Dalton, who is completing her PhD in developmental psychology at the school, used a small poll in the 2005-06 school year to uncover the truth behind freshman sex. Her research hoped to probe inside the sexual activity of a select portion of the student body, and postulate whether the emotionally mature students were having healthier sex lives.
In the past, much research has portrayed sexual activity among young people in a negative light.
Dalton and her research partners recruited first-year University of Alberta students in 2005, and had them fill out surveys each month for the academic year describing a variety of behaviours and feelings.
For this, her master's thesis, Dalton compared the sexual behaviour of about 200 students — focusing on vaginal intercourse and oral sex — and then related their behavior to the emotions they felt over the course of the school year. She then examined these findings in relation to other markers in her study that measured students' maturity levels.
Dalton discovered that the more “on track” a sexually active student was in terms of emotional maturity, the higher the possibility they were having positive sexual experiences.
Based on age and developmental level, students in the study were classified as either “genuinely mature,” “immature” or “semi-mature” based on their responses to certain questionnaires.
The study found that mature students were experiencing a wider range of positive emotions on a regular basis. “Immature” students, on the other hand, were experiencing a wider range of negative emotions and more frequently than the “genuinely mature.”
The students polled in the study were from across all faculties at the University of Alberta and consisted of approximately 56 per cent women and 44 per cent men. But as Dalton noted, the results were surprisingly similar for both genders.
For men, who are often portrayed with as being prone to engage in carefree casual sex, there was little variation in their emotional levels when compared to women polled in the survey.
“It looks like men and women are equally capable of having positive and negative experiences associated with their sexual behaviour, but it might be a function of their attitudes towards it,” Dalton said.
As the study primarily took into account attitudes towards sexual activity, it did not measure what role gender could have played. The study found that a permissive attitude towards sexual activity, no matter the gender, will lead to like feelings both before and after sex — depending on how mature one is as a lover.
According to Dalton's study, for those who have a more liberal attitude towards expressing their sexual self, and are emotionally mature enough to do so, sex will most likely become a positive experience. But if sex is approached with an immature attitude, it could become a negative experience and lead to conflicted feelings once the deed is done.