Access Type

Open Access Dissertation

Date of Award

January 2017

Degree Type


Degree Name




First Advisor

Antonia Abbey


The current study explores the role of psychosocial factors in women’s likelihood to engage in risky sexual behavior (RSB). Social rejection is particularly relevant as it is linked to a wide range of negative outcomes including engagement in self-reported RSB; however, its causal role has been rarely studied in a systematic manner. Furthermore, interpersonal violence victimization has been associated with RSB, but the processes underlying this relationship are largely unknown. This study aimed to: 1) test the impact of social rejection on women’s tendency to engage in RSB; 2) understand victimization as an individual vulnerability for engaging in RSB; and 3) explore the mechanisms underlying this relationship. Results suggest that social rejection and victimization predict physiological stress reactivity, and that social rejection also predicts psychological stress. However, these factors and their interactions did not have a significant effect on readiness to engage in RSB. Despite some inconclusive results, this research raises several new questions to be addressed in future research and emphasizes importance of assessing social factors that contribute to RSB.