The Measurement of Female Early Adolescent Sexual Desire

Anne E. Norris, Ariel U. Smith, Dina Ferranti, Hye Jeong Choi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We used the developmental systems model to deduce a definition of female early adolescent sexual desire. We evaluated a measure of this phenomenon with a secondary analysis of data from a randomized group sexual health intervention trial involving low-income, English-speaking, seventh grade Latinas enrolled in a Miami-Dade County public school (n = 542). As part of this study, girls completed a four-item early adolescent sexual desire (EASD) measure. Study findings supported internal consistency (Cronbach’s alpha = .81 to.82) and stability over a 1-month period (r = .74). Developmental sensitivity was supported by a decline in stability over 12- (r = .66) and 24-month periods (r = .56). Validity was supported by correlations with puberty changes, sexual intentions, sexting, and sexual behavior, and hypothesized mean differences associated with dating and preference for shoes culturally associated with female sexual attractiveness (p < .01). Research implications include validation work with other ethnic/racial groups and using the EASD as a starting point for a measurement continuum tracking development of sexual desire across adolescence and into adulthood. Directions for future research also include measuring the development of sexual desire in boys and transgendered youth across adolescence and into adulthood.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalJournal of Sex Research
StateAccepted/In press - 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Gender Studies
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Psychology(all)
  • History and Philosophy of Science


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