The utility of the Five Factor Model in understanding risky sexual behavior

Joshua D. Miller, Donald Lynam, Rick S. Zimmerman, T. K. Logan, Carl Leukefeld, Richard Clayton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

106 Scopus citations


The physical, emotional, and financial consequences of engaging in risky sexual behavior can be extremely high. This paper explores the relations between the Five Factor Model (FFM) of personality and a variety of risky sexual behaviors using a community sample of 481 individuals who are part of an ongoing longitudinal study. More specifically, we examined the relations between the five major personality domains, as well as the 30 specific facets, and six risky sexual behaviors including number of partners, the use of drugs or alcohol before or during sex, number of sexual acts without using a condom, giving birth at an early age, sex outside one's primary relationship, and early sexual initiation. The results suggest that personality can make a valuable contribution to our understanding of several risky sexual behaviors. In particular, the domains of low Agreeableness, low Openness to Experience, and high Extraversion were significantly related to multiple high risk sexual behaviors. In addition, several specific personality traits made significant contributions (e.g., high gregariousness, high excitement seeking, low openness to fantasy, low trust, and low straightforwardness).

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1611-1626
Number of pages16
JournalPersonality and Individual Differences
Issue number7
StatePublished - May 2004

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was supported by grant no. DA05312-10 from the National Institute of Drug Abuse, by NIH General Clinical Research grant no. M01 RR026202, and by the University of Kentucky Research Challenge Trust Fund.


  • Facets
  • Five Factor Model
  • Personality
  • Risky sexual behavior
  • Young adults

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Psychology


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