Forget the notions that today's college-age adults are more interested in "hooking up" than in traditional dating and that they're doing it more often than previous waves of college students. According to new research, neither is true.
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Researchers from the University of Portland decided to test the media idea of a "hookup culture," which it described as one marked by sexual encounters without thought that the relationships might endure.
The researchers focused on those ages 18-25 who had completed at least a year of college, comparing two "waves" of the General Social Survey (1988-1996 vs. 2004-2012), and wrote, "We found respondents from the current era did not report more sexual partners since age 18, more frequent sex or more partners during the past year than respondents from the earlier era."
Their findings are published in the Journal of Sex Research.
They did find that among the later group's sexually active segment, an intimate relationship with a spouse or regular partner was slightly less likely. "These modest changes are consistent with cultural shifts in the 'scripts' and terminology surrounding sexuality," the study said. "We find no evidence of substantial changes in sexual behavior that would indicate a new or pervasive pattern of non-relationship sex among contemporary college students."
"In fact, most people are still having sex with a regular partner rather than with random people," said Time magazine. "According to the new study, 78.2 percent of those recently surveyed reported that their sexual partner was either a spouse or a significant other, compared to 84.5 percent in the survey from the ’80s and ’90s. The researchers chalk up the differences in responses to the earlier set of people surveyed containing a higher proportion of married people. This isn’t surprising news since marriage rates are going down and people are getting married later."