Romance and “Hookups”

Kevin Lewis

May 13, 2010

Binge Drinking and Risky Sex among College Students

Jeffrey DeSimone
NBER Working Paper, April 2010

This study examines the relationship between binge drinking and sexual behavior in nationally representative data on age 18-24 four-year college students. For having sex, overall or without condoms, large and significant positive associations are eliminated upon holding constant proxies for time-invariant sexual activity and drinking preferences. However, strong relationships persist for sex with multiple recent partners, overall and without condoms, even controlling for substance use, risk aversion, mental health, sports participation, and sexual activity frequency. Promiscuity is unrelated with non-binge drinking but even more strongly related with binge drinking on multiple occasions. Results from a rudimentary instrumental variables strategy and accounting for whether sex is immediately preceded by alcohol use suggest that binge drinking directly leads to risky sex. Some binge drinking-induced promiscuity seems to occur among students, especially males, involved in long-term relationships. Effects are concentrated among non-Hispanic whites and are not apparent for students in two-year schools.


"Hookups," Dating, and Relationship Quality: Does the Type of Sexual Involvement Matter?

Anthony Paik
Social Science Research, forthcoming

Are partnerships that begin as "hookups," "friends with benefits," or casual dating relationships less satisfying and rewarding than serious sexual involvements? This research tests whether selection, experience, or mediation processes affect associations between types of sexual involvement and relationship quality. Drawing on a sample of 642 urban adults, we estimated ordinary least squares and treatment-effects regressions examining associations among types of sexual involvement, joint investments, and relationship quality. The results indicated that sexual involvements in nonromantic and casual dating contexts were associated with lower relationship quality in comparison to serious contexts, but these effects were completely accounted for by selectivity. Controlling for joint investments did not mediate these selection effects. The findings support the notion that screening processes associated with sexual involvement have important implications for later relationship quality.


Boys will be boys: Are there gender differences in the effect of sexual abstinence on schooling?

Joseph Sabia & Daniel Rees
Health Economics, forthcoming

A recent study by Sabia and Rees (2009) found that delaying first intercourse leads to a substantial increase in the probability that female students graduate high school. However, it is unclear whether the effect of abstinence extends to male students. Here we identify exogenous variation in the timing of first intercourse using a physical development index available for both females and males. Two-stage least squares estimates suggest that abstaining from sexual intercourse increases the probability that females graduate from high school, but has little effect on the educational attainment of males. This pattern of results is consistent with evidence from previous studies that males are less likely than females to suffer adverse psychological consequences from engaging in sexual intercourse at an early age.


"Hooking Up" Among College Students: Demographic and Psychosocial Correlates

Jesse Owen, Galena Rhoades, Scott Stanley & Frank Fincham
Archives of Sexual Behavior, June 2010, Pages 653-663

This study investigated 832 college students' experiences with hooking up, a term that refers to a range of physically intimate behavior (e.g., passionate kissing, oral sex, and intercourse) that occurs outside of a committed relationship. Specifically, we examined how five demographic variables (sex, ethnicity, parental income, parental divorce, and religiosity) and six psychosocial factors (e.g., attachment styles, alcohol use, psychological well-being, attitudes about hooking up, and perceptions of the family environment) related to whether individuals had hooked up in the past year. Results showed that similar proportions of men and women had hooked up but students of color were less likely to hook up than Caucasian students. More alcohol use, more favorable attitudes toward hooking up, and higher parental income were associated with a higher likelihood of having hooked up at least once in the past year. Positive, ambivalent, and negative emotional reactions to the hooking up experience(s) were also examined. Women were less likely to report that hooking up was a positive emotional experience than men. Young adults who reported negative and ambivalent emotional reactions to hooking up also reported lower psychological well-being and less favorable attitudes toward hooking up as compared to students who reported a positive hooking up experience. Based on these findings, suggestions for psychoeducational programming are offered. Additionally, directions for future research are provided.


Education, Matching and the Allocative Value of Romance

Alison Booth & Melvyn Coles
Journal of the European Economic Association, forthcoming

Societies are characterized by customs governing the allocation of non-market goods such as marital partnerships. We explore how such customs affect the educational investment decisions of young singles and the subsequent joint labor supply decisions of partnered couples. We consider two separate matching paradigms - one where partners marry for money and the other where partners marry for romantic reasons orthogonal to productivity or debt. While marrying for money generates greater investment efficiency, romantic matching, by increasing the number of educated and talented women who participate in the labour market, increases aggregate productivity.


Looking a Gift Horse in the Mouth as a Defense against Increasing Intimacy

Lindsey Beck & Margaret Clark
Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, July 2010, Pages 676-679

The authors hypothesize that people who fear dependence evidence a particular defensive bias by perceiving benefits received to have been less voluntarily given, which justifies not depending upon their partner. In Study 1, both members of married couples completed daily diaries regarding benefits they gave and received and the extent to which each was given involuntarily versus voluntarily. Avoidant attachment measured before marriage predicted perceiving one's spouse to have given benefits less voluntarily, controlling for that spouse's reports of how voluntarily benefits had been given. In Study 2, participants identified three specific benefits received from a friend. Days later, participants were primed with avoidant feelings or not before reporting the extent to which the benefits identified earlier had been given voluntarily. Participants primed to feel avoidant perceived their friend to have given them benefits less voluntarily than did the remaining participants.


Gender Distrust and Intimate Unions Among Low-Income Hispanic and African American Women

Angela Estacion & Andrew Cherlin
Journal of Family Issues, April 2010, Pages 475-498

This article investigates levels of generalized distrust of men among low-income non-Hispanic African American, Mexican, Puerto Rican, Dominican and non-Hispanic White women in a three-city survey. The results reveal substantial variation. Hispanics' overall levels of distrust are found to be higher than levels for either African Americans or Whites. Among Hispanics, however, Dominicans are the most distrusting group followed by Puerto Ricans, whereas Mexicans report levels of distrust that are comparable to those of non-Hispanic African Americans and non-Hispanic Whites. Married women are less distrusting than cohabiting women, who in turn are less distrusting than noncohabiting women. Nevertheless, distrust is not a significant predictor of a woman's total number of lifetime marital and cohabiting relationships, and distrust only marginally predicts a woman's desire to be in a steady relationship. We suggest that studies of trust in this population should focus more on attitudes displayed in specific encounters than on overall, generalized attitudes about gender distrust.


Romantic relationships and the physical and mental health of college students

Scott Braithwaite, Raquel Delevi & Frank Fincham
Personal Relationships, March 2010, Pages 1-12

This study tested the hypothesis that, analogous to married individuals, college students in committed romantic relationships experience greater well-being than single college students. In a sample of 1,621 college students, individuals in committed relationships experienced fewer mental health problems and were less likely to be overweight/obese. There were no significant differences between groups in frequency of physical health problems. Examination of 2 models suggested that being in a committed romantic relationship decreases problematic outcomes largely through a reduction in sexual partners, which in turn decreases both risky behaviors and problematic outcomes. These results are discussed in the context of how premarital dating relationships may contribute to understanding of the observed association between marriage and well-being.


Desperation or Desire? The Role of Risk Aversion in Marriage

Christy Spivey
Economic Inquiry, April 2010, Pages 499-516

Because of the uncertainty inherent in searching for a spouse and the uncertainty of the future quality and state of the marriage itself, risk attitudes likely directly impact the timing of marriage. The effect of an individual's risk aversion, measured via a series of hypothetical gambles over income on time to marriage, is examined using survival analysis. I find risk aversion significantly affects time to marriage, with more risk averse respondents marrying sooner than their more risk-loving counterparts. Within-family analyses using sibling data reveal a similar pattern. In addition, the effect of risk aversion on time to marriage is larger in magnitude and more statistically significant for men. One possible explanation for the different results between the sexes is that women value risk aversion as a desirable trait in potential mates.


Television Use, Sexual Behavior, and Relationship Status at Last Oral Sex and Vaginal Intercourse

Melina Bersamin, Beth Bourdeau, Deborah Fisher & Joel Grube
Sexuality & Culture, June 2010, Pages 157-168

The current longitudinal study explores the relationship between adolescent television use at time 1 and sexual experience and relationship status (i.e., committed/romantic versus casual) 1 year later. The sample (N = 824) comprised youth aged 14-18. Multinomial logistic regressions predicting group membership from television exposure variables were conducted controlling for socio-demographic characteristics and prior sexual behavior. Results indicate that sexually inexperienced youth watched more television overall than sexually experienced youth, but less adult, premium and music television on cable networks. Premium cable exposure predicted group membership among sexually active youth. Youth who watched more premium cable at time 1 were more likely to be in casual relationship at last intercourse than a committed one. A more complete understanding of media effects on adolescent sexual relationships can help guide policy development, media education/literacy efforts, and contribute to the design of interventions to reduce the negative consequences associated with adolescent sexual behavior.


Dispositional authenticity and romantic relationship functioning

Amy Brunell, Michael Kernis, Brian Goldman, Whitney Heppner, Patricia Davis, Edward Cascio & Gregory Webster
Personality and Individual Differences, June 2010, Pages 900-905

The present study investigates the extent to which dispositional authenticity is associated with dating couples' relationship behaviors and outcomes as well as their personal well-being. Sixty two heterosexual couples completed a measure of dispositional authenticity (Kernis & Goldman, 2006), as well as measures of relationship behaviors (e.g., accommodation, self-disclosure, and trust), relationship outcomes, and well-being. Results revealed that authenticity was related to engaging in healthy relationship behaviors, which in turn predicted positive relationship outcomes and greater personal well-being. Interestingly, men's authenticity predicted women's relationship behaviors, but women's dispositional authenticity was not associated with men's relationship behaviors. The implications of dispositional authenticity and the contribution of gender roles are discussed.


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