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UA researcher finds motivations for ‘sexting’ complicated

TUCSON – A new study out of the University of Arizona is looking into the motivations for why people are sexting.

Morgan Johnstonbaugh, a UA sociology doctoral student, said that sharing nude or semi-nude photos is becoming more common for young people, but the reasons why are more complicated.

So she wanted to explore the motivations and dig deeper as to why people are sexting through social media or text messages.

“I looked at two primary motivators: pressures to share, as well as desires for empowerment,” said Johnstonbaugh.

She used an online survey asking more than 1,000 college students from seven universities questions about sexting with a list of 23 possible reasons.

Johnstonbaugh said she found the reasons may be more complicated than we might think.

“When we look at pressures to share we see that men and women equally report sexting in order to satisfy the request of others which was a really interesting and unexpected finding, but when we look at the internalized pressures to share, so preventing your romantic partner from losing interests or keeping him satisfied we see that women are much more likely to respond, ‘Yes, this is why I chose to sext,”‘ she said.

Johnstonbaugh also found that women were much more likely to share images of themselves to feel empowered and gain confidence, while men have external pressure to share.

Her research showed that men share a photo of themselves to get a photo in return.

She hopes her study will increase the conversation around sexting and gain more insight into why people send nude photos of themselves.

Priscilla Casper

Priscilla Casper

Priscilla Casper is an anchor and multi-skilled journalist for News 4 Tucson. She anchors weekdays at noon and 4 p.m.
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