This study examined the effects of contextual and cognitive variables for sexual protection on perceived social relationship factors. University students (108 women and 108 men) read script-based narratives on sexual encounters in which six variables were manipulated in two independent analyses. In the first analysis, four variables were evaluated: relational context (stable, casual), condom use (yes, no), script terminus (beginning, middle or end), and the rater’s sex. The dependent variables were interpersonal perception of one of the characters of the narrative, and expectations regarding characteristics and future of the relationship. In the second analysis, two other factors were manipulated only in the “yes” condom conditions: communication strategy (verbal, non-verbal) and condom proponent gender. Our findings corroborated other studies where condom use was viewed as unromantic with less positive characteristics for relationships. Condom proponents, especially male, were perceived as less romantic, particularly when proposing a condom non-verbally at the beginning of the encounter. However, the controlled variables enabled us to propose ways of associating condom use with positive expectations towards the proponent and the relationship itself. Romanticism, expectation of sexual intercourse, emotional proximity, and expectations of condom use in encounters where a condom was proposed increased when suggested by a woman, postponed to the end of the encounter, and verbally mentioned. We encourage women to take the lead in suggesting condom use, thus empowering them since they do not have to wait for the male to make the first move.
Source: “Cognitive and Contextual Variables in Sexual Partner and Relationship Perception” from Archives of Sexual Behavior, Volume 40, Number 2, 407-417