Nav: Home

People who prefer casual sex still desire intimacy

December 03, 2018

BINGHAMTON, N.Y. -- Casual sex among emerging adults can be a source of intimacy, and often is, according to a new study conducted by an interdisciplinary team of researchers including Binghamton University faculty and researchers at Indiana University's Kinsey Institute.            

The study was designed by Ann Merriwether of Binghamton University and Justin Garcia of the Kinsey Institute, and conducted with Sean Massey of Binghamton, Amanda Gesselman of the Kinsey Institute, and Susan Seibold-Simpson of SUNY Broome. Researchers sent a voluntary online questionnaire to several hundred college students, and asked about their affectionate and intimate activities during sexual encounters in the contexts of both romantic relationships and casual sex hookups. The researchers found, as they expected, that partners were more likely to engage in affectionate and intimate activities in relationship sex than in casual sex-- but the rate of these acts in casual sex was much higher than hypothesized.

Ann Merriwether, a developmental psychologist and lecturer at Binghamton, said casual sex is largely misinterpreted in today's society.

"We have a stereotype that casual sex (hookups) are just about meaningless sex, but this research shows this is not necessarily true," said Merriwether. "It shows intimacy is important and desired by many people, especially those who prefer hookups to more traditional relationships."

Justin Garcia, research director of the Kinsey Institute and Ruth Halls associate professor of gender studies at Indiana University, said they've been working on the topic of casual sex for over ten years with a focus on integrating concepts from evolutionary and gender theories of human behavior, and are conducting further studies as part of ongoing collaborations between researchers at the Kinsey Institute and Binghamton University "We are continuing to explore dynamics of casual sex behavior, and how interpersonal factors like intimacy and demographic factors like gender and sexual orientation influence the motivations, experiences, and outcomes of sexual activity across different relationship contexts," Garcia said.

The students were randomly selected from a university in the U.S. Northeast and answered questions about whether or not they engage in affectionate and intimate acts during sex, including cuddling, spending the night, eye gazing, and engaging in foreplay. They also indicated which of these acts they preferred during casual (hookup) sex or sex in the context of a romantic relationship.

The researchers hypothesized women would report being more likely to engage in intimate acts in all scenarios. The information they found supported this hypothesis, but the data also showed many men were likely to engage in intimate acts as well, with no gender difference found in relation to engaging in foreplay or eye gazing.

The participants specified which type of sexual context they preferred: sex in a long-term relationship or in casual hookups. Study coauthor Sean Massey, a social psychologist and associate professor of women, gender, and sexuality studies at Binghamton, said the team found results they had not anticipated.

"Young adults who indicated they prefer casual sexual encounters over relationship sex were more likely to want affection and intimacy from them," said Massey. "This suggests they seek to meet their need for intimacy through those casual encounters."

Massey hopes this study will help to eliminate some of the stigma that still surrounds casual sex and increase public understanding of uncommitted sexual encounters among college students and emerging adults.

The Binghamton research team is currently working on further research about college campus hookups, including how to incorporate ideas of consent and strategies of sexual assault prevention into the context of a college hookup culture that involves significant alcohol use and high levels of intoxication.
-end-
The article, "Intimacy through casual sex: Relational context of sexual activity and affectionate behaviors," was published in the Journal of Relationships Research.

Binghamton University

Related Behavior Articles:

Religious devotion as predictor of behavior
'Religious Devotion and Extrinsic Religiosity Affect In-group Altruism and Out-group Hostility Oppositely in Rural Jamaica,' suggests that a sincere belief in God -- religious devotion -- is unrelated to feelings of prejudice.
Brain stimulation influences honest behavior
Researchers at the University of Zurich have identified the brain mechanism that governs decisions between honesty and self-interest.
Brain pattern flexibility and behavior
The scientists analyzed an extensive data set of brain region connectivity from the NIH-funded Human Connectome Project (HCP) which is mapping neural connections in the brain and makes its data publicly available.
Butterflies: Agonistic display or courtship behavior?
A study shows that contests of butterflies occur only as erroneous courtships between sexually active males that are unable to distinguish the sex of the other butterflies.
Sedentary behavior associated with diabetic retinopathy
In a study published online by JAMA Ophthalmology, Paul D.
Curiosity has the power to change behavior for the better
Curiosity could be an effective tool to entice people into making smarter and sometimes healthier decisions, according to research presented at the annual convention of the American Psychological Association.
Campgrounds alter jay behavior
Anyone who's gone camping has seen birds foraging for picnic crumbs, and according to new research in The Condor: Ornithological Applications, the availability of food in campgrounds significantly alters jays' behavior and may even change how they interact with other bird species.
A new tool for forecasting the behavior of the microbiome
A team of investigators from Brigham and Women's Hospital and the University of Massachusetts have developed a suite of computer algorithms that can accurately predict the behavior of the microbiome -- the vast collection of microbes living on and inside the human body.
Is risk-taking behavior contagious?
Why do we sometimes decide to take risks and other times choose to play it safe?
Neural connectivity dictates altruistic behavior
A new study suggests that the specific alignment of neural networks in the brain dictates whether a person's altruism was motivated by selfish or altruistic behavior.

Related Behavior Reading:

Best Science Podcasts 2019

We have hand picked the best science podcasts for 2019. Sit back and enjoy new science podcasts updated daily from your favorite science news services and scientists.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Digital Manipulation
Technology has reshaped our lives in amazing ways. But at what cost? This hour, TED speakers reveal how what we see, read, believe — even how we vote — can be manipulated by the technology we use. Guests include journalist Carole Cadwalladr, consumer advocate Finn Myrstad, writer and marketing professor Scott Galloway, behavioral designer Nir Eyal, and computer graphics researcher Doug Roble.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#529 Do You Really Want to Find Out Who's Your Daddy?
At least some of you by now have probably spit into a tube and mailed it off to find out who your closest relatives are, where you might be from, and what terrible diseases might await you. But what exactly did you find out? And what did you give away? In this live panel at Awesome Con we bring in science writer Tina Saey to talk about all her DNA testing, and bioethicist Debra Mathews, to determine whether Tina should have done it at all. Related links: What FamilyTreeDNA sharing genetic data with police means for you Crime solvers embraced...