Significance of Sex

Significance of Sex is a 12-item measure of respondents' endorsement of beliefs that shared sexual experiences serve to bond partners intimately in relationships.


Geographies Tested: United States of America

Populations Included: Female, Male

Age Range: Adults


1. Sex is part of a commitment; it's not just an experience.
2. A person should get to know and care for a partner before having sex.
3. Sex is for special relationships.
4. Sex is about showing your emotions.
5. Sex with your partner has to be something special.
6. It is important to be close friends before you have sex.
7. Giving one's virginity to a partner is special.
8. Sex is just fun; it shouldn't have to mean anything.*
9. I wouldn't have sex unless I really loved the person.
10. I have only had sex with people that I had a strong relationship with.
11. To me sex means something-it's more than just doing it.
12. I think sex is all about respect and trust.

*Item is reverse scored

Response Options:
6-point Likert scale
Strongly disagree - 1
Strongly agree - 6

Scoring Procedures

The mean of the item scores is calculated for the total measure score.

Original Citation

O'Sullivan, L. F., Hoffman, S., Harrison, A., & Dolezal, C. (2006). Men, multiple sexual partners, and young adults' sexual relationships: Understanding the role of gender in the study of risk. Journal of Urban Health, 83(4), 695-708.

Psychometric Score

Ease of Use Score

Scoring breakdown

Formative Research

Qualitative Research

Existing Literature/Theoretical Framework

Field Expert Input

Cognitive Interviews / Pilot Testing








Criterion (gold-standard)



Ease of Use


Scoring Clarity


Join the EMERGE Community

to get the latest updates on new measures and guidance for survey researchers