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?
- Phase-Change Materials Set New Speed Limit For Silicon
- Life After The 125 GeV Higgs: What Is Left Of Two-Higgs Doublet Models
- M60-UCD1: Tiny Galaxy, Supermassive Black Hole
- More Children Making Music, But Are Lessons Too Conventional?
- Watching Neurons Learn: Learning New Ideas Is More Difficult
- John Ellis On The Ascent Of The Standard Model
- Witness The Singularity AI Nanotech Co-Evolutionary Merger
- "What is wrong about quantum mechanics ? It has played a crucial role in our undestanding of atomic..."
- "I only have one problem with this article, and it is your implication that atheism is the lack..."
- "Sorry, I do not quite get your point. What do you object to ? The fact that the SM lagrangian remains..."
- "Recently someone requested my opinion on a book to read authored by a woman who runs a health spa..."
- "Bad idea. A person may be having those feelings for any number of reasons. A man may be angry because..."
- Gibbon genome sequence deepens understanding of primates rapid chromosomal rearrangements
- Combining antibodies, iron nanoparticles and magnets steers stem cells to injured organs
- Messier 54 lithium: This star cluster is not what it seems
- Sharks more abundant on healthy coral reefs
- Using plants to produce enzyme may provide treatment for high blood pressure in lungs
Books By Writers Here