Risky sexual behaviors, or behaviors with the risk of an adverse health outcome, are on the rise. Rates of Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) are also on the rise. Research suggests that several variables are closely related to human sexual behavior, namely sexual attitudes, sexual knowledge, and gender. Individuals with more permissive sexual attitudes tend to engage in riskier sexual behaviors. Studies examining the relationship between sexual knowledge and risky sexual behavior show both positive and negative associations. Although risky behaviors can occur between partners of any gender, the present study focuses on heterosexual relationships.The present study uses data from a nationally representative sample of 3,737 adults living in the People's Republic of China (PRC) who completed a computerized interview about their sexual knowledge, attitudes, and behavior. I used structural equation modeling (SEM) to test a mediation model with sexual attitudes as a mediator between sexual knowledge and four risky sexual behaviors: number of sexual partners, extradyadic sex, age of first intercourse, and paying for sex. I found significant indirect effects of attitudes on every risky sexual behavior other than age of first intercourse. There was a significant gender moderation such that attitudes predicted stronger effects on behavior for women than for men. These findings have implications for future efforts to create interventions and prevention programs for risky sexual behavior. Although the present study has some limitations, it contributes to a gap in the literature by replicating a Knowledge-Attitude-Behavior (KAB) model of risky sexual behavior a large, representative sample of adults across the PRC.



College and Department

Family, Home, and Social Sciences; Psychology



Date Submitted


Document Type





risky sexual behavior, HIV knowledge, sexual attitudes



Included in

Psychology Commons