Multiple Partners in the Age of AIDS: Self-Consciousness Theory and HIV Risk Behavior
AIDS is one of the world's deadliest infectious diseases. It is now the fourth leading cause of death worldwide. Despite the continuing risk posed by AIDS and increased knowledge about safer sex practices, unprotected sexual activity with multiple partners continues. Participants also answered questions that assessed marital status, exclusivity of dating relationships, length of present relationship, number of sexual partners within the past year, and attitudes toward safer sex practices. College males who were higher in public self-consciousness had more sexual partners. Self-consciousness theory predicts that attitude-behavior consistency increases as a function of self-focused attention. Individual differences in self-consciousness may help explain why greater HIV prevention knowledge has not led to a reduction in risk behaviors. Research on personality traits like public and private self-consciousness coupled with gender and social factors may provide insight into some of the factors that propel young people into HIV risk behavior.