As narratives of modern “hook-up” culture in young people 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 survey found higher levels of general anxiety, social anxiety, and depression among students who recently had casual sex.
The authors surveyed over 3,900 heterosexual college students from across the United States about their casual sex behaviors and mental well-being. “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.
The work was led by Dr. Melina M. Bersamin of California State University, Sacramento. According to Bersamin, “It is premature to conclude that casual sexual encounters pose no harmful psychological risks for young adults.” The results “suggest that among heterosexual college students, casual sex was negatively associated with well-being and positively associated with psychological distress.”
The researchers also investigated the role of gender in determining mental distress linked to casual sex. Prior studies have found that women respond more negatively to casual sex than men, possibly because of double standards that allow men to have more sexual encounters with a greater number of partners than women. In this study, however, gender did not have an effect on outcomes.
“Risky Business” opens the door to future research questions about causal links between sexual behavior and mental health. Researchers have yet to determine whether casual sex leads to psychological distress, or if existing mental health problems cause young adults to engage in riskier behaviors.
Citation: Melina M. Bersamin, Byron L. Zamboanga, Seth J. Schwartz, M. Brent Donnellan, Monika Hudson, Robert S. Weisskirch, Su Yeong Kim, V. Bede Agocha, Susan Krauss Whitbourne&S. Jean Caraway, 'Risky Business: Is There an Association between Casual Sex and Mental Health among Emerging Adults?', Journal of Sex Research, Published online: 07 Jun 2013 DOI:10.1080/00224499.2013.772088
- PHYSICAL SCIENCES
- EARTH SCIENCES
- LIFE SCIENCES
- SOCIAL SCIENCES
Subscribe to the newsletter
Stay in touch with the scientific world!
Know Science And Want To Write?
- Anomaly! Book Of The Week At Times Higher Education
- Random Thoughts Of A Physicist In Honeymoon
- Climate Change Made The Sahara Green - Then Took It Away Again
- How Wind Turbines Work - A Legal Perspective
- Eugene Cernan, Hometown Astronaut of Bellwood Illinois dead at 82.
- Anomaly! At 35% Discount For Ten More Days
- How Viruses Leave Messages For Descendants On How To 'Infect'
- "I don't know why my comment's formatting was lost in the transmission, so that it is now one big..."
- "“If you don't use probabilities then how else do you do it? At any rate that's not a criticism..."
- "Tomasso, Congratulations, may you enjoy a long and happy life together with Kalliopi! Best regards..."
- "Found another one : http://www.dailystar.co.uk/news/latest-news/545975/end-of-the-world-Gods-vengeance..."
- "Thanks :). Actually there are so many fake doomsday red top tabloid stories that I tend to wait..."
- A Drug 85 Times More Potent than THC Caused 'Zombie Outbreak' in New York City
- Doubt Cast Over Sunscreen-Vs.-Shade Study
- ABCD: Obesity Has A New Name, Will It Stop The Epidemic?
- President George H. W. Bush in ICU, Wife Barbara in Same Hospital
- Media Think World of Science and Health Will End on Inauguration Day 2017
- And Then There Were Three: A New Trivalent Herpes Vaccine Enters The Scene