To describe changes in adolescent girls' sexual attitudes and relationships with boys between 1970 and 1996, particularly girls who had early onset of sexual intercourse. METHOD AND INSTRUMENT: The study includes two cohorts. The first is from the Swedish longitudinal research program, "Individual Development and Adaptation." This cohort included all eighth-grade girls (15-year-olds), 522 girls, in a mid-Swedish community in 1970. In 1996, the same instrument (Adjustment Screening Test) was administered to all eighth-grade girls (15-year-olds), 567 girls, in the same community. These girls make up the second cohort.
Girls were thinking and feeling similarly about sexual matters in 1970 and 1996. Furthermore, the same factors correlated with early sexual onset of intercourse in both cohorts, and the correlations were of about the same magnitudes. This suggests that sexuality has quite similar developmental implications in the lives of teenaged girls now as it had 25 years ago. There were, however, differences in the prevalence of opposite-sex relations. Compared with girls in 1970, girls in 1996 had had fewer sexual relationships and had postponed their sexual transition.
This study shows that perceptual, bodily, and behavioral maturation are positively related to each other. The girls with early onset of intercourse matured early both in 1970 and in 1996. They felt sexually more experienced than their age-mates, and they also aspired to be older.