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This representative survey of sexual behaviour in the general population of America offers basic information about topics such as the transmission of AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases, unwanted pregnancies, child abuse, sexual harassment and sexual violence. Conducted by a research team centred at the University of Chicago, the National Health and Social Life Survey (NHSLS) was designed to determine not only incidence and prevalence of sexual practices, but also the social and psychological contexts in which they occur. Based on personal interviews with a probability sample of 3432 American women and men between the ages of 18 and 59, this study explores the extent to which sexual conduct and general attitudes toward sexuality are influenced by gender, age, marital status and other demographic characteristics. Some of the questions the researchers address include: how do social factors such as education, race, and religion affect sexual conduct?; how have American sexual patterns been changing?; how do women's and men's sexual lives and attitudes differ?; and how is sexual behaviour organized across the life course?
Other topics covered by the survey include early sexual experiences, masturbation, contraception and fertility, sexual abuse, coercion, sexual health, satisfaction and sexual dysfunction. A wide variety of sexual practices and preferences are also explored in the questionnaire, including specific questions on homosexual desire, identity, and behaviour, the appeal of various sexual practices, and their frequency and incorporation into sexual lives. With many charts, graphs and tables, and a copy of the complete survey questionnaire, this work is intended to be of use as a reference for scientists, analysts and researchers seeking reliable information on the sexual practices of American adults.
Edward O. Laumann is the George Herbert Mead Distinguished Service Professor in the Department of Sociology at the University of Chicago. John H. Gagnon is the Distinguished Professor of Sociology, Emeritus, at the State University of New York, Stony Brook. Robert T. Michael is the Eliakim Hastings Moore Distinguished Service Professor and dean of the Harris Graduate School of Public Policy Studies at the University of Chicago. Stuart Michaels was the project manager of the NHSLS suvey and is currently adjunct clinical professor in the Department of Public Health and Epidemiology at the University of Paris XI, France.