The Adolescent Attitudes and Sexuality Study (2004)

Over the course of several months in 2004, Michelle Poulin designed and implemented the Adolescent Attitudes and Sexuality Study in rural Malawi. Her goal was to gather information about the lived experiences of young Malawians on the cusp of marriage and adulthood, during an era when a young person’s sense of their own mortality is sharpened given the AIDS epidemic in the country. The research project was funded from several sources, including the Department of Sociology at Boston University, the MDICP, and an NSF Dissertation Fellowship (#SES-0503350). Data collection for the study consisted of in-depth interviews with a sample of adolescents and young adults (N=141), aged 15-24, drawn randomly from the larger MDICP survey sample. A total of ten local interviewers conducted in-depth, conversational-style interviews, in three local languages, in two of the three MDICP study sites: Balaka in the South and Rumphi in the North. The decision about which topics to include in the in-depth interviews was largely, although not entirely, based upon narratives that arose from a period of pilot work in preparation for the Adolescent Study.

The resultant data from the study’s 141 interviews contain extensive information on the following six topics: (1) sexual decision-making (e.g. condom use, frequency of sex, and personal motivations behind these behaviors), as well as questions about friends’ beliefs and behaviors; (2) gift/money transfers in premarital partnerships; (3) social and sexual norms of adolescents and young adults; (4) choices regarding schooling; (5) conversational topics among friends; and (6) marital hopes and expectations. These data have been invaluable in providing new insights to understandings of how to interpret MDICP survey data, as well as to yielding detailed information about the sexual and social relations of Malawian adolescents and young adults more broadly. Below is a selection of interviews from the Adolescent Attitudes and Sexuality Study.

Anonymized Interview Transcripts from the Adolescent Attitudes and Sexuality Study. The transcripts were anonymized using the QualAnon Software.

Balaka District Respondents

Rumphi District Respondents

These results are not currently available.