THE image of the testosterone-fueled teenage boy is a familiar one. It has been reinforced by movies such as “Porky’s,” “American Pie” and “Superbad,” which chronicle the escapades of high school boys determined to lose their virginity.
But are boys that age really defined primarily by their sexual urges? Or does the stereotype fall short, telling us less about teenage males and more about a culture that seems to have consistently low expectations of its boys?
A new report in The Journal of Adolescence this month suggests that when it comes to sex, girls and dating, boys are more complex than we typically give them credit for. While hormonal urges are no doubt an important part of a teenage boy’s life, they aren’t necessarily the defining trait influencing a boy’s relationships with girls.
Psychology researchers from the State University of New York at Oswego recently examined data collected from 105 10th-grade boys, average age 16, who answered questions about a number of health behaviors. In questions put to them about girls (most of the boys self-identified as heterosexual), the teenagers were asked to note their reasons for pursuing a relationship. The top answer, marked by 80 percent of the boys? “I really liked the person.”