Journal of Youth and Adolescence

, Volume 44, Issue 9, pp 1674–1687 | Cite as

Delay Discounting Mediates Parent–Adolescent Relationship Quality and Risky Sexual Behavior for Low Self-Control Adolescents

  • Rachel E. Kahn
  • Christopher Holmes
  • Julee P. Farley
  • Jungmeen Kim-Spoon
Empirical Research


Parent–adolescent relationship quality and delay discounting may play important roles in adolescents’ sexual decision making processes, and levels of self-control during adolescence could act as a buffer within these factors. This longitudinal study included 219 adolescent (55 % male; mean age = 12.66 years at Wave 1; mean age = 15.10 years at Wave 2) and primary caregiver dyads. Structural equation modeling (SEM) was utilized to determine whether delay discounting mediated the association between parent–adolescent relationship quality and adolescents’ risky sexual behavior and how this mediated association may differ between those with high versus low self-control. The results revealed parent–adolescent relationship quality plays a role in the development of risky sexual behavior indirectly through levels of delay discounting, but only for adolescents with low self-control. These findings could inform sex education policies and health prevention programs that address adolescent risky sexual behavior.


Delay discounting Parent–adolescent relationship quality Risky sexual behavior Adolescence Self-control 



This work was supported by Grants awarded to Jungmeen Kim-Spoon from the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (HD057386) and the National Institute of Drug Abuse (DA036017). We thank Laurel Marburg, Eirini Papafratzeskakou, Diana Riser, and Gregory Longo for their help with data collection. We are grateful to adolescents and parents who participated in our study.

Authors’ Contributions

R.E.K conceived of the study, participated in its design and interpretation of the data, performed the statistical analysis, and drafted the manuscript. C.H. participated in the design and interpretation of the data. J.P.F participated in the coordination of the study and performed measurements. J. K. conceived of the study, participated in its design and coordination, supervised the statistical analysis, and helped to draft the manuscript. All authors approved the final version of the manuscript for submission.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Rachel E. Kahn
    • 1
  • Christopher Holmes
    • 1
  • Julee P. Farley
    • 1
  • Jungmeen Kim-Spoon
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Psychology (MC 0436)Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State UniversityBlacksburgUSA

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