Examining Emerging Adults’ Motivations for Sexting, Subjective Well-being, and Relationship Quality: A Self-Determination Perspective

  • Author / Creator
    Le, Lily
  • Researchers have documented many reasons why young people participate in sexting and a range of positive and negative outcomes associated with the activity. However, almost no research links outcomes with specific reasons, and the few instances where they are linked (e.g., Drouin et al., 2015; Klettke et al., 2019) focus on coerced sexting and lack a theoretical framework to guide the design and interpretation of results. This study addresses this gap by employing Self-determination theory to assess how autonomous and controlled motivations for sexting were related to subjective well-being and relationship quality among emerging adults. Online survey data from 267 emerging adults ages 18-25 who had sent sexually explicit images or videos of themselves through electronic means to a committed partner were analyzed using Structural Equation Modelling. Controlled motivations for sexting were significantly harmful to all indicators of subjective well-being operationalized as pleasant affect, negative affect, and life satisfaction. Autonomous motivations for sexting were related to increased pleasant and negative affect but had no statistically significant relationship with life satisfaction. Autonomous motivations for sexting were related to enhanced relationship quality, whereas controlled motivations for sexting were related to decreased relationship quality. These results demonstrate that the quality of motivations for sexting among emerging adults in committed relationships contributes to different outcomes. Implications for counsellors, educators, and practitioners working with emerging adults who sext are discussed.

  • Subjects / Keywords
  • Graduation date
    Spring 2021
  • Type of Item
  • Degree
    Doctor of Philosophy
  • DOI
  • License
    This thesis is made available by the University of Alberta Libraries with permission of the copyright owner solely for non-commercial purposes. This thesis, or any portion thereof, may not otherwise be copied or reproduced without the written consent of the copyright owner, except to the extent permitted by Canadian copyright law.