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Researchers sent a voluntary online questionnaire to several hundred college students, and asked about their affectionate and intimate activities during sexual encounters in the contexts of both romantic relationships and casual sex hookups. The researchers found, as they expected, that partners were more likely to engage in affectionate and intimate activities in relationship sex than in casual sex— but the rate of these acts in casual sex was much higher than hypothesized. The students were randomly selected from a university in the U. Northeast and answered questions about whether or not they engage in affectionate and intimate acts during sex, including cuddling, spending the night, eye gazing, and engaging in foreplay. They also indicated which of these acts they preferred during casual hookup sex or sex in the context of a romantic relationship. The researchers hypothesized women would report being more likely to engage in intimate acts in all scenarios.


People who prefer casual sex still desire intimacy

Try out PMC Labs and tell us what you think. Learn More. This study explored the benefits of hooking up among first-year college women. Two authors coded for the presence of 10 benefits kappas: 0. From a developmental perspective, hooking up is consistent with the tasks of emerging adulthood, a time of experimentation and exploration regarding relationships and sexuality Arnett, Hookups have also been found to be associated with depression, sexual victimization, and sexually transmitted infections Authors, However, recent work has highlighted the importance of understanding motivations for casual sex in interpreting the effects of hookups on emotional well-being see Vrangalova, Most research on the effects of hooking up has focused on negative outcomes Garcia et al.

To enhance understanding of the benefits of hooking up from the perspective of young women, we surveyed a large sample of female college students and summarize the benefits in their own words. All procedures were approved by the Institutional Review Board.

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Incoming first-year female students received a mass mailing inviting them to participate. Interested women attended a study orientation session, provided written informed consent, and completed the baseline survey in person. Subsequent monthly surveys were administered using a secure website. Participants received modest payment for completing surveys, which assessed a range of health behaviors, including sexual behavior.

What were the benefits, positive consequences, or good things that you experienced as a result of the hookup? We used a quasi-statistical coding process Lewis et al. After reviewing all responses, the first and second authors independently developed a list of benefit.

Both authors identified the samewith only minor variation. The first, second, and fourth authors discussed the options and finalized a list of Table 1. The first and second authors then independently coded all responses, later discussing all discrepancies until a consensus was reached. For each response, we coded all as either 0 not present or 1 present. The average kappa statistic for the 10 was 0. were not mutually exclusive, so a response could reference more than one. were not mutually exclusive, so participants could endorse more than one.

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Exemplar quotations are verbatim from participants with no editing of grammar or spelling. Responses are reported in full unless we indicate ellipses. Table 1 displays the benefit and exemplars for each.

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We sought to address this imbalance, and our suggest that hooking up can have a variety of benefits for college women. Given that sexual interaction is central to the definition of hookups Lewis et al. Some women identified relationship avoidance as a benefit. Further, hookups provide some women with a better understanding of their preferences for relationships and sexual behavior. Viewing the situation as a learning experience Owen et al. The opportunity to spend time together may help partners assess their interest in progressing to friendship, dating, or a relationship.

Although this transition may be rare, it can occur in the right circumstances, and certain features of hookups e.


Women reported that making a friend or becoming closer with a friend was a benefit of hookups. Given that social development is central to the college experience, young women appear to appreciate hookups for the social connections that can be forged with hookup partners. Hooking up may help them to discover common interests or mutual friends. Finally, women benefited from a short-term interpersonal connection.

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This does not necessarily indicate that the hookups had negative consequences, although for some women this may be the case. Our sample was limited to first-year women at one university, which limits the generalizability of our findings.

The research contradicts common assumptions.

Interviews might be used to obtain more in-depth information. In addition, it is important to assess both the positive and negative consequences of the same hookups to ascertain the overall impact in the full context. In conclusion, we found that hookups can have a variety of interpersonal and intrapersonal benefits for young women, particularly sexual pleasure and positive emotions.

Although hookups are assumed to lack emotional intimacy and commitment, some women appear to use hookups to clarify their feelings, meet romantic relationship partners, and advance a relationship. Further study of the social and relational goals and functions of hookups is needed, and a balanced approach is imperative. Additional study of both the positive and negative outcomes of hookups can advance understanding of the potentially adaptive functions of this behavior as well as the potential risks.

The authors thank Annelise Sullivan for her assistance with data collection. National Center for Biotechnology InformationU. Int J Sex Health. Author manuscript; available in PMC Aug Robyn L. Shepardson1, 2 Jennifer L. Walsh3, 4, 5, 6 Kate B. Carey5, 7 and Michael P.

Carey 3, 4, 5. Jennifer L. Kate B. Michael P. Author information Copyright and information Disclaimer. Corresponding author: Robyn L. Tel: 1 x Fax: 1 Copyright notice. The publisher's final edited version of this article is available at Int J Sex Health.

See other articles in PMC that cite the published article. Abstract Objectives This study explored the benefits of hooking up among first-year college women. Methods Two authors coded for the presence of 10 benefits kappas: 0.

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General positive emotions 0. New or improved friendship 0. Learning experience 0. Open in a separate window. American Sociological Review. Emerging adulthood: A theory of development from the late teens through the twenties. American Psychologist. Journal of Sex Research. Hooking up: Sex, dating, and relationships on campus.

Casual sexual relationships and experiences in emerging adulthood.

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Emerging Adulthood. Contingencies of self-worth. Current Directions in Psychological Science. In: Kimmel M, editor. The Gendered Society Reader.

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Hook-up behavior: A biopsychosocial perspective. Journal of Social, Evolutionary, and Cultural Psychology. Sexual hookup culture: A review. Review of General Psychology.

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Some amount of post-hookup regret is indeed common.