When the Hook-Up Hurts…

The hook-up encounter between young people holds a reputation of an exciting and passionate experience indicative of a liberal society, but what are the actual effects on us?

Jesse Owen and his team of researchers in the US examined factors associated with hook-up behaviours in college students recently. The team also explored the emotional impact such experiences can have and their findings recommend caution be taken by students.

Hook-up behaviour entails an intimate sexual encounter between people outside of a committed relationship with the mutual understanding that no future relationship is expected. Fascinating insights into the psychology of attraction can be found in Speed Dating Undressed: Perceived Similarity Triumphs in Love.

Previous studies have shown that over half of all university students report having hooked-up at some point in the preceding 12 months. Research has also revealed a link between hook-up behaviours and mental and physical risk factors such as contracting sexually transmitted diseases (STD’s) and experiencing depression.

Researchers suggest the prevalence of casual sexual encounters may be symptomatic of the dissolution of traditional relationship structures and expectations.

Generally, Owen and his colleagues found that hook-up experiences were negative ones for students; this was especially the case for young women.
For students with negative emotional reactions to a hook-up experience, lower levels of wellbeing and more negative attitudes to hooking-up than those reporting positive hook-up experiences were reported.

As the team further predicted, hook-up behaviour was correlated with higher parental income which they suggest may mediate the behaviour by allowing students more free-time to socialise. Interestingly, studies focusing on adolescent sexual trends indicate a correlation between lower parental income and increased casual sex and teen pregnancy.

Alcohol consumption was also associated with increased hook-up behaviours and the researchers think this may also be linked to higher parental income.
Unsurprisingly, the study found that people with positive attitudes towards hooking-up reported more such behaviour in the preceding year.
Findings indicated greater psychological well-being for men was linked to hook-up behaviour but no such link was found in women who participated in the study.
Contrasting with one of the study’s hypotheses, no association was found between likelihood of hooking up and family environment and background, suggesting that circumstances in which this behaviour occurs may be such that family related influences are negated or simply not active.
Generally, the picture painted by this study depicts a bleak outlook for students who hook-up.
Young women are particularly at risk from the negative emotional effects of hooking-up with someone they don’t intend to have a relationship with. The potential negative impact hook-up behaviours present makes it an issue requiring serious consideration by students and tertiary institutions alike.
Owen, Jesse J., et al, 2010, “Hooking Up” Among College Students: Demongraphic and Psychosocial Correlates, Arch Sex Behaviour (39), 653-663
Online Advocate/Australian Higher Education/Community Health/Youth Mental Health. Follow me on Twitter @writerinsight

1 Comment

  1. Lily

    21/11/2012 at 12:04 am

    whatever hook-up or 419, they are memories even footprints of everyone’s young life that would never return. Youth cant be called youth with crazy stories and squander life.

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