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In this article, we review the literature on sexual hookups and consider the research on the psychological consequences of casual sex.
This is a transdisciplinary literature review that draws on the evidence and theoretical tensions between evolutionary theoretical models and sociocultural theory.
In a qualitative study that asked 187 participants to report their feelings after a typical hookup, 35 percent reported feeling regretful or disappointed, 27 percent good or happy, 20 percent satisfied, 11 percent confused, 9 percent proud, 7 percent excited or nervous, 5 percent uncomfortable, and 2 percent desirable or wanted (Paul & Hayes, 2002).
However, this same study found that feelings differed during hookups compared with after: During a typical hookup, 65 percent of participants reported feeling good, aroused, or excited, 17 percent desirable or wanted, 17 percent nothing in particular or were focused on the hookup, 8 percent embarrassed or regretful, 7 percent nervous or scared, 6 percent confused, and 5 percent proud (Paul & Hayes, 2002).
The themes of books, plots of movies and television shows, and lyrics of numerous songs all demonstrate a permissive sexuality among consumers.Hookups — defined in this article as brief uncommitted sexual encounters between individuals who are not romantic partners or dating each other — have emerged from more general social shifts taking place during the last century.Hookups began to become more frequent in the 1920s, with the upsurge of automobiles and novel entertainment, such as movie theaters.This is consistent with the view of emerging adulthood (typical college age) as a period of developmental transition (Arnett, 2000), exploring and internalizing sexuality and romantic intimacy, now including hookups (Stinson, 2010).Although much of the current research has been done on college campuses, among younger adolescents, 70 percent of sexually active 12- to 21-year-olds reported having had uncommitted sex within the last year (Grello et al., 2003).