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Romance and Risk: Romantic Attraction and Health Risks in the Process of Relationship Formation
Unformatted Document Text:  17 attributes were rated as attractive while less than 10% were seen as “risky.” Young adults are most attracted to a potential partner who is single, prefers partners of the opposite sex and is trustworthy, faithful, and happy with themselves. They feel most at risk with those who use drugs occasionally, are bisexual, like to sexually experiment, and who believe that the more sex experience the better and that life is short and should be enjoyed. One striking fact about these “most risky” attributes is that they include the basic elements of standard “public health warnings” relevant to sexually transmitted infections. In this regard, the health education system seems to be effective for these respondents. While there are over 80 other aspects that make one attractive (see Table 4), there are only 14 aspects that seem to provide a clear indication of risk. Of the 14 “risky” attributes, 2 are also seen as highly “attractive” (i.e., “life of the party”, “lives in the moment), while 7 are viewed as “unattractive” (i.e., prefers “same” or “both sexes”, uses drugs occasionally, is a smoker, is “secretive/mysterious”, thinks that “cleanliness is overrated” and believes “the more sex experience the better.”) However, the greatest number of aspects (42%, N=67) indicate high attractiveness and low risk. Correlations at the level of an individual aspect show considerable variation. For the most part, for any given aspect, risk and attractiveness are negatively correlated but the

Authors: Johnson, Brenda., Fishbein, Martin., Hennessy, Michael. and Yzer, Marcus.
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attributes were rated as attractive while less than 10% were seen
as “risky.”
Young adults are most attracted to a potential partner who is
single, prefers partners of the opposite sex and is trustworthy,
faithful, and happy with themselves. They feel most at risk with
those who use drugs occasionally, are bisexual, like to sexually
experiment, and who believe that the more sex experience the
better and that life is short and should be enjoyed. One striking
fact about these “most risky” attributes is that they include the
basic elements of standard “public health warnings” relevant to
sexually transmitted infections. In this regard, the health
education system seems to be effective for these respondents.
While there are over 80 other aspects that make one
attractive (see Table 4), there are only 14 aspects that seem to
provide a clear indication of risk. Of the 14 “risky” attributes,
2 are also seen as highly “attractive” (i.e., “life of the party”,
“lives in the moment), while 7 are viewed as “unattractive” (i.e.,
prefers “same” or “both sexes”, uses drugs occasionally, is a
smoker, is “secretive/mysterious”, thinks that “cleanliness is
overrated” and believes “the more sex experience the better.”)
However, the greatest number of aspects (42%, N=67) indicate high
attractiveness and low risk.
Correlations at the level of an individual aspect show
considerable variation. For the most part, for any given aspect,
risk and attractiveness are negatively correlated but the


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