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Try out PMC Labs and tell us what you think. Learn More. Hooking up, or engaging in sexual interactions outside of committed relationships, has become increasingly common among college students. This study sought to identify predictors of sexual hookup behavior among first-year college women using a prospective longitudinal de. We used problem behavior theory Jessor, as an organizing conceptual framework and examined risk and protective factors for hooking up from three domains: personality, behavior, and perceived environment.
Using two-part modeling with logistic and negative binomial regression, we identified predictors of hooking up. Risk factors for sexual hookups included hookup intentions, impulsivity, sensation-seeking, pre-college hookups, alcohol use, marijuana use, social comparison orientation, and situational triggers for hookups. Protective factors against sexual hookups included subjective religiosity, self-esteem, religious service attendance, and having married parents.
Future research on hookups should consider the array of individual and social factors that influence this behavior. In recent years, a new cultural phenomenon regarding romantic and sexual relationships has emerged, namely, sexual hookups. Hooking up has been studied primarily among American college students and has received considerable attention in both the popular media e. In this article, we briefly summarize the burgeoning research literature on hooking up, and then describe a longitudinal study deed to identify theoretically-suggested antecedents of sexual hookups among first-year college women.
Consistent with this qualitative research, most scholars share a consensus on the definition and operationalize hookups as sexual encounters between partners who are not in a romantic relationship and do not expect commitment e. Thus, FWB may be a subtype of hooking up, rather than a distinct phenomenon.
Research on hookups did not begin to appear until Stinson, Several differences are noteworthy. First, hooking up and casual sex have been defined differently. In contrast, the term hookup is used to refer to a variety of sexual behaviors i. A second difference is the high prevalence i. Thus, although hooking up and casual sex both entail a lack of commitment, they appear to be distinct. Casual sex can be considered a form of hooking up. Hooking up has the potential to confer both positive and negative consequences. The former may include feeling attractive, desirable, and empowered; experiencing sexual pleasure, excitement, and fun; feeling close to someone momentarily; and meeting new friends or potential romantic partners Bachtel, ; Brhaw et al.
At the same time, negative health outcomes are also possible Lewis et al. It is important to note that most research on hookup consequences has been qualitative or cross-sectional and has failed to measure positive outcomes; therefore, additional research is needed before we can draw strong conclusions about the health risks of hookups. The literature on correlates and predictors of hooking up has grown considerably over the past decade Garcia et al.
Moreover, almost all research has been atheoretical, limiting the coherence of the literature and the interpretation of findings. In the absence of a sexuality-specific framework, the broader health- behavioral model provides a useful heuristic framework. This framework has been used ly to identify psychosocial and behavioral risk and protective factors for other health behaviors among college students e.
In the PBT approach, problem behaviors are socially defined as concerning or undesirable by conventional standards. From this perspective, sexual hookups can be considered problem behaviors insofar as they involve unprotected sex, multiple partners, sex while intoxicated, or sexual victimization, all of which can have negative health consequences. The most recent articulation of PBT Jessor, organizes the antecedents of behavior into risk and protective factors. Risk factors increase the likelihood of engaging in problem behaviors, whereas protective factors decrease the likelihood of engaging in problem behaviors and attenuate the effects of risk factors.
In addition to considering individual differences, PBT incorporates the influence of the various social contexts in which youth exist, such as family and peers. Thus, the major systems of explanatory variables in PBT include 1 personality, 2 behavior, and 3 perceived environment Donovan, Next, we organize and review research on the antecedents of hooking up according to this framework see Figure 1.
Risk factors. Little research has examined the influence of attitudes and behavioral intentions on hooking up. Early research suggested a link between hookups and emotional distress; depressive symptoms were positively correlated with hookup behavior Grello et al. Although we did not address this in the current study, it is also possible that depression may follow, rather than precede, hookups. There is a dearth of research on personality traits and hooking up.
An early study found that impulsivity was positively correlated with hooking up Paul et al. Protective factors. Little research has explored protective factors against hooking up. In one study, self-esteem was negatively correlated with hookup behavior Paul et al.
High self-esteem may confer confidence to resist external pressures to hook up. Subjective religiosity is hypothesized to be a protective factor against numerous health behaviors because it provides social control and support for pro-social behaviors. We know of no research that has examined marijuana use or cigarette smoking, two behaviors that are often correlated with alcohol use Costa et al.
Substance use may increase risk for hookup behavior by providing opportunities and encouragement to engage in other risk behaviors, which are often learned and practiced together Jessor, Behavioral protective factors, such as religious and academic involvement, constitute pro-social activities, engender socialization of conventional values, and promote linkages with conventional social groups Donovan, Two studies found that religious service attendance was negatively correlated with hookups Burdette et al.
We know of no research that has examined academic achievement and hooking up; academic involvement may buffer against hooking up by displacing time that may otherwise be used for socializing. Lastly, the situational context e. Involvement in a committed relationship may protect against hookup behavior due to loyalty or concern for a romantic partner. Among college men, those in committed romantic relationships were less likely to hook up compared to those who were single Olmstead et al.
Another important social context that may influence hookup behavior is the family, but no studies have examined the role of parental connectedness. Parents may protect against hookup behavior by providing social control and discouraging risk behaviors. Twenty percent of U. Having parents who are married may protect against hookups by providing models of conventional relationships and sexual behavior. In summary, most extant research on correlates and predictors of hooking up has focused on individual-level factors to the exclusion of social and contextual influences. Findings from cross-sectional studies have been equivocal, and only two longitudinal studies have examined predictors of hooking up.
Owing to the newness of this research area, most extant research has been atheoretical and exploratory. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to identify risk and protective factors for sexual hookup behavior among first-year college women. We sampled women because they are more vulnerable to the potential health consequences of hookups compared to men. We advance the literature by using a conceptual framework to select predictors, following a large sample of college women during an important developmental transition, and using a prospective longitudinal de with monthly surveys over one year.
Based on prior research and theory, we expected positive associations between sexual hookups during the first year of college and these risk factors: attitudes toward hooking up, behavioral intentions, depression, impulsivity, sensation-seeking, pre-college hookup behavior, alcohol use, marijuana use, cigarette use, injunctive norms, social comparison orientation, and situational triggers.
We expected negative associations between sexual hookups and these protective factors: self-esteem, subjective religiosity, religious service attendance, academic achievement, being in a committed relationship, parental connectedness, and having married parents. Participants were incoming first-year female undergraduates attending a private university in upstate New York. Women under age 18 or over age 25 years at baseline and scholarship athletes were excluded. Scholarship athletes were ineligible due to National Collegiate Athletic Association restrictions on payments to student-athletes, and women over age 25 were excluded due to our focus on emerging adults.
Women completed an average of 8. We used a prospective longitudinal de with one baseline T1 and 8 monthly follow-ups T2-T9. The study spanned the first academic year at a residential college. Recruitment began with a mass mailing to 1, incoming first-year female students. Scholarship athletes, students under age 18, and international students were excluded from the mailing due to ineligibility and uncertain timing of mail delivery to foreign addresses, respectively.
Flyers, word of mouth, and the psychology department research pool were also used to supplement recruitment. Recruitment materials invited women to up on a website to receive further information about the study; women were then invited to attend orientation sessions during their first three weeks on campus. At the orientation sessions, the study was described to participants as involving surveys about personality, mood, relationships, sexual behavior, and health behaviors, such as sleep, physical activity, and substance use. Given that most participants were under age 21 and were asked to report on their alcohol and drug use, we obtained a federal Certificate of Confidentiality for this research.
We explained to participants that all surveys were confidential, and their names would not be associated with their survey responses. Survey responses were linked over time using unique identification codes, and identifying information was stored separately from survey responses to protect privacy. All study data were collected through a secure online survey software program. Follow-up surveys began at the end of September T2 and continued through the end of May T9. On the last day of each month, participants received an with an embedded confidential survey, which they had one week to complete.
Surveys were deed to be completed in 20 minutes or less. Participants indicated their age, race, ethnicity, and sexual orientation. Age and sexual orientation were not included as control variables due to a lack of variability. Hookup intentions were measured using two face-valid items. Participants indicated their agreement with each item e. We used oral sex intentions as a predictor of hookups involving performing and receiving oral sex and vaginal sex intentions as a predictor of hookups involving vaginal sex.
Participants indicated how often they were bothered by each symptom e. Participants indicated how well each item e. Sensation-seeking was measured using six items Magid et al. Participants were asked to what extent they consider themselves religious on a 4-point Likert scale from 1 not religious at all to 4 very religious. For alcohol use, we assessed frequency of binge drinking of days in the last month, with anchor dates provided to facilitate recall.
Standard drinks were defined according to published standards Dufour, , and participants indicated on how many days in the last month they had four or more drinks on one occasion. For marijuana use, we assessed frequency of use of days in the last month, with anchor dates provided to facilitate recall. For cigarette use, women reported on whether they had smoked in the month prior to college entry; if they had, they reported the of cigarettes they smoked each day in a typical week during that month.
These daily reports were averaged, and women who reported smoking one or more cigarettes per day on average were classified as smokers. Religious service attendance was measured with one item asking the frequency with which participants attend religious services, on a Likert scale from 1 never to 6 more than once a week. For academic achievement, participants indicated their high school grade point average GPA on a 4. Situational triggers were assessed at T2 with three items adapted from a study of casual sex among college students Herold et al.
Participants rated how likely, on a Likert scale from 1 not at all likely to 6 extremely likely , they would be to hook up with a casual partner in three situations: 1 When you are at a bar or party, 2 When someone attractive wants to hook up with you, and 3 When it seems like everyone else is hooking up.
Participants rated their agreement with each item e. A sexual hookup was operationally defined as oral or vaginal sex with a casual partner; this definition reflects the extant research on partner types, sexual behaviors, and the defining characteristic of a hookup Epstein et al. Use of the word hookup was intentionally minimized to reduce the potential for proactive interference, which may cause participants to respond with their idiosyncratic understandings of the term in mind.
Thus, participants were asked about engaging in specific sexual behaviors i. Some people call these hookups. Garcia et al. At baseline T1 , participants were asked about their lifetime prior to college; at subsequent monthly assessments T2-T9 , participants were asked about the last month, with anchor dates provided to facilitate recall. We created predictor variables related to pre-college hookups of three types: performing oral sex, receiving oral sex, and vaginal sex.
These were binary variables representing whether women had engaged in at least one hookup of each type. As our outcome variables, counts of of hookup events during the academic year were created by summing monthly reports from T2 to T9. Sums were created for performing oral sex, receiving oral sex, and vaginal sex. Because there was a small amount of missing data an average of 0. All variables were examined for univariate and multivariate outliers by inspecting box plots and examining Mahalanobis distance. Univariate outliers were recoded to three SDs from the mean.
No multivariate outliers were identified. There were no ificant differences in other demographic variables, or in probability of pre-college oral sex hookups. Other missing values were dealt with using multiple imputation Rubin, ; Schafer, , a modern method for dealing with missing data that avoids biases associated with using only complete cases or with single imputations Schafer, Logistic and negative binomial regressions were used to examine predictors of hookup events.Durant MS sex dating
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Predictors of Sexual Hookups: A Theory-Based, Prospective Study of First-Year College Women