Abstract: Sext dissemination presents policy and legislative challenges given its potential psychological, social, and legal harms. We report on a cross-national comparison of sext-image dissemination in a large sample of 1148 young adults aged 18–29 years (M = 22.54, SD = 2.50, 53.0% women, 47.0% men), either U.S. (53.8%) or Australian (46.2%) residents. The results indicate that 14% of young adults disseminated sexts, with no difference by gender or country. Over 50% of respondents indicated that the last time they received a disseminated sext, it was unexpected or unwelcome, with women twice as likely as men to receive unwelcome sexts. The most frequent motivations for sext dissemination were similar cross-nationally, relating to the attractiveness of the person depicted, as a joke, to gossip, because it was not a big deal, bragging, roasting or teasing, and to increase social status. Motivations of attractiveness, bragging, or social status were more commonly endorsed by men, while women endorsed reasons around gossip or roasting/teasing. Unique predictors of sext dissemination included U.S. residence, requesting sexts, receiving disseminated sexts, having one’s own images disseminated, and more positive subjective norms to dissemination, and there was a country–gender interaction, where Australian women and U.S. men were more likely to disseminate sexts than then U.S. women or Australian men. The findings have implications for prevention programs seeking to address harmful online sexual interactions, including addressing respect, consent, and subjective norms supporting non-consensual dissemination.
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