According to USA Today sex among college age students has not changed much in the last two decades. The term “hookup” has many different meanings ranging from simply kissing to oral sex as well as sexual intercourse. The study performed by the University of Oregon found that more of these college students are having sex with friends or casual dates or pickups. The same study also reported that 59% of those in the study claimed to be having sex weekly or more.
The study did not discuss any claims of rape or date rape, the focus was to see if there were any changes among the sexual habits of today’s college students compared to those twenty years ago.
The researchers analyzed nationally representative data from the General Social Survey of 1,829 high school graduates ages 18-25 who had completed at least one year of college. They compared responses from 1988-1996 were compared with those from 2002-2010 – when casual sex, “friends with benefits” and no-strings relationships became part of the lexicon.
“The term ‘hooking up’ is very provocative and very ambiguous,” Monto says. “So when researchers ask students about hooking up, students often could be referring to anything from sexual intercourse to kissing. But when the term ‘hooking up’ is used in the popular media, it is often interpreted as sex. That has led to an assumption that college students’ sexual behavior has changed dramatically.”
Rather than sex with a spouse or partner, recent respondents were more likely to report having sex with a casual date/pickup (44% vs. 35% in the past) or a friend (69% vs. 56%). They were less likely to report having a spouse or regular sexual partner (77% vs. 85%).
In this new study, the researchers said that among young adults in the more recent group, 59% reported having sex weekly or more in the past year, compared with 65% in the 1980s and ’90s. Both groups reported similar patterns in the number of sexual partners in the past year: about 32% reported having more than one partner.
“Our results provide no evidence that there has been a sea change in the sexual behavior of college students or that there has been a significant liberalization of attitudes towards sex,” says researcher Martin Monto, who presented the study.