Online Program

Hooking up: Attitudes that inform decision making around casual sex behavior within a college population

Monday, November 4, 2013

Margo Mullinax, Ph.D., MPH, School of Health, Physical Education, and Recreation, Indiana University, Bloomington, IN
Monica Ramirez, Dept. of Health, Human Services and Public Policy, California State University, Monterey Bay, Seaside, CA
Stephen Stewart, Marriage and Family Therapy, Purdue University, Merrillville, IN
Catherine Sherwood-Laughlin, HSD, MPH, MA, Department of Applied Health Science, Indiana University, Bloomington, IN
Michael Reece, PhD, MPH, School of Public Health, Indiana University-Bloomington, Bloomington, IN
Background: Hook up culture has become widely discussed within the public health community. To adequately address public health needs related to hook up behaviors, research should focus on understanding hook ups on the intrapersonal level. This research uses a bargaining theory approach to investigate what attitudes inform college age students' decision-making around hooking up. Methods: Data for this research comes from an online elicitation survey, informed by the Reasoned Action Approach. A total of 235 participants (44 men and 190 women)(Mean age=24.4) were recruited through snowball sampling. The vast majority of respondents identified as heterosexual 88.6% (N=203), white 83.3% (N=189), and single 86% (N=202). After being coded and transferred into SPSS, qualitative answers were analyzed. Results: Of participants, 68.9% of reported that they felt hooking up was a normal activity for college students, while only 3.2% disagreed. The most commonly seen advantages to a hook were: starting a new relationship (29.7%), pleasure (23.3%), fun (18.1%), and because they don't want commitment (13.8%). Knowing the partner and alcohol helped facilitate hook ups. Disadvantages were seen as: disease (51.3%), pregnancy (29.7%), bad reputation (15.5%), and emotional hurt (9.5%). Further analysis will serve to stratify by gender and compare attitudes between groups. Conclusion: The public health conversation around hook up culture should incorporate a view of agency in which an individual weighs the advantages and disadvantages when engaging in decision-making. Most participants were aware of the public health risks associated with hook ups, but also saw multiple benefits.

Learning Areas:

Planning of health education strategies, interventions, and programs
Public health or related education
Social and behavioral sciences

Learning Objectives:
Describe perceived advantages and disadvantages associated with hook up behavior. Evaluate what factors into young adults decision-making associated with casual sexual encounters. Assess young adults’ perception of the health risks associate with casual sex.

Keyword(s): Sexual Risk Behavior, Decision-Making

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: As a Project Coordinator for the Center for Sexual Health Promotion, I have worked on numerous research projects from design to analysis. My experience extends to both qualitative and quantitative data analysis. As I work to a PhD in Health Behavior, I have also managed my own research projects, including securing funding.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.