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Sexual Development, Age, and Dating: A Comparison of Biological and Social Influences upon One Set of Behaviors

Sanford M. Dornbusch, J. Merrill Carlsmith, Ruth T. Gross, John A. Martin, Dennis Jennings, Anne Rosenberg and Paula Duke
Child Development
Vol. 52, No. 1 (Mar., 1981), pp. 179-185
Published by: Wiley on behalf of the Society for Research in Child Development
DOI: 10.2307/1129228
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1129228
Page Count: 7
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Sexual Development, Age, and Dating: A Comparison of Biological and Social Influences upon One Set of Behaviors
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Abstract

Data from the U. S. National Health Examination Survey of 12-17-year-old youths were used to determine whether the development of the social behavior of dating is more closely linked to the level of sexual maturation or to the progression through age grades without reference to sexual maturation. Regression analyses and partial correlations show that individual levels of sexual maturation add very little to the explained variance in dating after age has been taken into account. It appears that social pressures, based on behavior considered typical and appropriate at various ages, determines the onset of dating in adolescents. Individual rates of sexual maturation that deviate from the norm for that age have little impact on dating. These findings show how social standards can reduce dramatically the impact of individual biological processes on institutionalized forms of behavior.

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