As narratives of “hook-up” culture take center stage in popular media, behavioral researchers are starting to ask what psychological consequences, if any, may be in store for young adults who engage in casual sex.
A new study in The Journal of Sex Research found higher levels of general anxiety, social anxiety, and depression among students who recently had casual sex. Entitled Risky Business: Is There an Association between Casual Sex and Mental Health among Emerging Adults?, the study surveyed over 3,900 heterosexual college students from across the United States about their casual sex behaviors and mental well-being.
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“Casual sex” was defined as having intercourse with a partner one has known for less than a week. Students from over 30 institutions around the country completed the online survey, making this the largest sample to be collected for a study on this topic. On average, 11% of students reported a casual sex encounter during the month prior to the survey, the majority of whom were men.
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Are college student hook-ups linked to anxiety and depression?.