How Do Adolescent Social Determinants and Social Contexts Shape Adult Sexual Identification?


Silva, Tony & Evans, Clare R. (2020). How Do Adolescent Social Determinants and Social Contexts Shape Adult Sexual Identification?. Social Problems.


This study explores the social determinants of exclusively straight sexual identification in a large, nationally representative sample. Using data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health and combining cross-classified multilevel models with social network analysis, we examine how straight identification varies across school, neighborhood, and network community contexts. We also test whether numerous determinants identified by prior ethnographic studies predict straight identification. The use of panel data enables us to establish temporal order, avoiding many of the disadvantages of cross-sectional studies. After controlling for attractions and sexual behaviors, we find persistent clustering of adult sexual identification by adolescent social context, suggesting that these contexts may shape later sexual identification. Religiosity, political conservatism, Black racial identification, migration status, and male identification were strong predictors of straight identification. This study provides the most comprehensive analysis of the social determinants of sexual identification to date as well as evidence on the generalizability of previous findings.




Reference Type

Journal Article

Journal Title

Social Problems


Silva, Tony
Evans, Clare R.

Year Published




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