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When it comes to college hookups, more is said than done
Date:9/14/2011

College students talk about hooking up -- a lot. In fact, they talk about it much more than it actually happens, and they believe other students are having the encounters more often than they actually are, as a new study shows.

The research from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln examined how college students' social networks often lead them to define, perceive and participate in "hookups" -- the slang term for casual intimate encounters outside of dating or exclusive relationships. The study also looked at the extent to which those networks influenced risky sexual behavior.

In the study, 84 percent of students said they had talked with their college friends in the previous four months about hookups. But when asked how many hookups they had had during the school year, students reported far fewer for himself or herself than what they assumed a "typical student" had experienced.

Yet, the study found, such regular talk about hookups had a "normalizing" effect on students' views about the practice. That led to a more approving attitude toward hookups and, often, riskier sexual behavior, researchers said.

"We were interested in how communication about hooking up with friends and family may justify or normalize a potential risky behavior," said Amanda Holman, a graduate student in UNL's Department of Communication Studies and the study's lead author. "Students with strong ties to peers and frequent peer conversation about sex were more strongly related to participation in hookups and more favorable attitudes towards hooking up."

Holman said that rather than unearthing a uniform campus "hookup culture," the study found students had varied definitions of hookups, ambivalence toward them and moderate participation in the activity. But among students who participated in hookups, the most common definition was unplanned, inebriated sex. In most student accounts, the hookup also originated in social contexts in which friends
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Contact: Amanda Holman
amanda.holman@huskers.unl.edu
402-472-3348
University of Nebraska-Lincoln
Source:Eurekalert

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