Catching up! The sexual behaviour and opinions of Italian students (2000–2017)

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While sexuality has radically changed across middle–high-income societies in recent years, only outdated studies are available for Italy. We aim to provide novel insights into the sexual behaviour and opinions of young Italians diachronically and through a gendered lens. Our analysis compares the results of two national samples of university students collected in 2000 and 2017. The sexual behaviour and opinions of young men and women seem to be converging in several respects. We observed a feminisation of male opinions and behaviour within couples, which is to say that men are more likely to experience first intercourse with a young woman of roughly the same age while in a stable relationship, and betray—or accept betrayal—with less frequency and willingness than in the past. Similarly, we found a masculinisation of female opinions and behaviour outside of stable relationships, for example, an increase in occasional partners, a net drop in the expectation that other women hold virgin status before marriage, and a doubling of the acceptance of casual sex. A few gender differences remain, especially concerning sexual double standards: young men and women are still subject to diverse rules guiding their sexual behaviour. Finally, acceptance of homosexuality has risen substantially—particularly among women.




Minello, A., Caltabiano, M., Dalla-Zuanna, G., & Vignoli, D. (2020). Catching up! The sexual behaviour and opinions of Italian students (2000–2017). Genus, 76(1).

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