Too many people have unprotected sex and don't have a good enough reason why. I have been one of those people. Pretty much every one of my friends has been one of those people. You know that you should have safe sex, but for some reason it just doesn't happen. Now, I'm not saying that knowing other people do it too makes it excusable — just the opposite.
A new questionnaire has been developed that might give some kind of background on where this behavior comes from, and has outperformed 14 other measures used in psychology and economics to predict risky behavior. It's been developed by Valerie Reyna, professor of human development at Cornell University, and Evan Wilhelms of Vassar College, and appeared in the Journal of Behavioral Decision Making. It was tested over a course of four studies— with a total of over 1,000 participants— and was found to be very accurate.
So what's it all about? Well, the questionnaire asks 12 simple questions that get at the same idea — how likely are you to "sacrifice now, enjoy later". It's called the Delay-of-gratification Gist Scale and asks questions like "I think it is better to save money for the future", to predict how prone to problematic decisions you are.
"I should clarify that it is not the case that problematic behavior is completely unpredictable," Reyna tells Bustle. "However, it is determined by multiple factors, including principles (such as delay of gratification), reward sensitivity, mental representation of decision options, etc. In my view, understanding why people engage in problematic behavior is hugely important in reducing that behavior." In the case of unprotected sex, reducing that behavior can have huge benefits.
But the good news about scales like this is that you can learn about yourself. You don't have to say "Oh, this is the sort of person I am so this kind of behavior is inevitable,". Instead, you learn about what makes you tick and you're more likely to do — use that to keep an eye on yourself and behave safely. You're definitely not the only person in the world with a "spend now, worry later" attitude, I promise (and my back account agrees).
Information is key, because safe sex is so important. "I believe the healthiest sex is sex that consensual and between partners who openly communicate with one another,” Dr. Jennifer Caudle, family physician and assistant professor at Rowan University School of Osteopathic Medicine, tells Bustle. “It is sex where partners not only respect each others' wishes, but respect each others' bodies as well. The healthiest sex is SAFE sex. It is also sex which doesn't put a person’s health in jeopardy. The healthiest sex is enjoyable and fulfilling."
The other important thing to remember is that, as Reyna explained, it's not just about unprotected sex. There are other behaviors — such as borrowing money without needing too or drinking too much— that can be predicted. So you can learn a lot about your life — and how to control it — from one questionnaire.
Images: Andrew Zaeh/Bustle; Giphy