Cultural differences in sexual behavior: 2-6 year old dutch and american children

William N. Friedrich, Theo G.M. Sandfort, Peggy T. Cohen-Kettenis, Jacqueline Oostveen

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Three samples, one American (N = 500) and two from the Netherlands (N = 460, N = 297) of 2-6 year old children, screened for the absence of sexual abuse, were assessed with 25 items derived from the Child Sexual Behavior Inventory (Friedrich et al. 1992). Considerable differences existed between the three groups across a number of the behaviors rated, with a persisting tendency for the parents of the children from the Netherlands to report higher rates of sexual behavior. Family nudity was related to sexual behavior in all three samples. Although the studies used an equivalent questionnaire and all three of the samples are predominantly middle class, the observed differences can be explained by methodological factors such as sample composition and the way data have been collected. The observed differences might, however, also reflect actual differences, and can be understood as resulting from cultural differences in sexual socialization. More rigorous research is needed to assess which explanation is most valid.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)117-129
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Psychology and Human Sexuality
Issue number1-2
Publication statusPublished - 12 Oct 2000


  • Child sexual behavior inventory
  • Cross-cultural differences
  • Family nudity
  • Parents’ observations

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