Young Adults Respect Virginity and Want to See More of it in the Media According to a New Survey

Jul 15 2014

(Washington, DC)—Even though popular media often seems to be saturated in sex, nearly nine out of 10 young adults (86%) “wish popular media like movies and TV shows portrayed virginity in a more realistic way,” according to a new survey from The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy and MTV’s “It’s Your (Sex) Life” campaign in advance of MTV’s new docu-series Virgin Territory, premiering Wednesday, July 16 at 11:00 p.m. ET/PT. 

Although seven in 10 young adults (69% of those age 18-24) say it is socially acceptable for someone their age to be a virgin, more than half (56%) say popular media frequently makes “it seem like people who have sex are cooler than those who don’t.”  Three-quarters of the 1,001 young adults surveyed (74%) say they wish television and movies “did a better job of exploring why people are virgins.”

Other findings from the survey include:

  • 72% of young adults (including 62% of those who have already had sex) say they could be happy in a serious relationship that does not include sexual intercourse.
  • In the battle between sex versus relationships, relationships win.  When asked if they would rather be in a serious romantic relationship that did not include sex or be having sex but not be in a serious romantic relationship, 78% of young adults say they’d choose the serious but sexless relationship.  This includes a majority of men (71%), women (85%), virgins (91%), and those who have already had sex (72%).
  • Two-thirds of young adults (66%) agree “if teenagers knew that less than half of all teens are sexually active, it would help them wait longer to have sex.”
  • Nearly half of young adults (46%) say when they find out someone their age is a virgin they feel respect for them.
  • Among young adults who have not yet had sex, 37% say they are waiting for marriage (28% of men, 47% of women).  More than one in four (26%) are waiting until they fall in love (20% of men, 33% of women), and 20% say they haven’t had sex because of the risk of pregnancy (15% of men, 26% of women.)

This new survey continues MTV’s legacy of partnering with third-party expert organizations to thoroughly understand its audience and elevate the discussion of responsible sexual health through on-air programming such as True Life, 16 and Pregnant, and Teen Mom.  On Wednesday, July 16 at 11:00 p.m. ET/PT, MTV will debut its latest docu-series, Virgin Territory, that will explore the real-life stories of 15 young adults as they navigate the complexities of relationships and the decision of whether to have sex or remain a virgin.  The National Campaign will also collaborate with MTV’s “It’s Your (Sex) Life” campaign on content related to the show that will be available at and

The complete survey report, questionnaire and responses, and full analysis of the findings are available here.  The online survey was conducted in January 2014 by GfK Custom Research LLC, Public Affairs and Corporate Communications Group and included interviews with a total of 1,001 adults age 18 to 24 who had graduated high school.  The study was conducted using GfK’s KnowledgePanel, which assures representative samples that are statistically valid and projectable to the population of adults 18 to 24. The margin of error for this study is +/- 4.4%.

About The National Campaign: The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy seeks to improve the lives and future prospects of children and families.  Our specific strategy is to prevent teen pregnancy and unplanned pregnancy among single, young adults.  We support a combination of responsible values and behavior by both men and women and responsible policies in both the public and private sectors.  If we are successful, child and family wellbeing will improve.  For more information, visit

About MTV:  MTV is the world’s premier youth entertainment brand.  With a global reach of more than a half-billion households, MTV is the cultural home of the millennial generation, music fans, and artists, and a pioneer in creating innovative programming for young people.  MTV reflects and creates pop culture with its Emmy®, Grammy®, and Peabody® award-winning content built around compelling storytelling, music discovery, and activism across TV, online, and mobile.  MTV’s sibling networks MTV2 and mtvU each deliver unparalleled customized content for young males, music fans, and college students, and its online hub is a leading destination for music, news, and pop culture.  MTV is a unit of Viacom Inc. (NASDAQ: VIA, VIAB), one of the world’s leading creators of programming and content across all media platforms.  For more information, go to