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Bradshaw and team exposed 150 female and 71 male college students from a southern, public American university to a variety of dating or hooking up situations, such as when there was potential for a relationship, when their partner had a great personality and when drinking was involved.
They asked the students the extent to which they would prefer dating or hooking up in each situation.
They know each other or want to get to know one another and there is the prospect of a future relationship.
In contrast, a hookup is a casual sexual encounter which usually occurs between people who are strangers or brief acquaintances.
Technological advancements such as the automobile and movie theaters brought young couples out of their parents' homes, and out from their watchful eyes, giving them more freedom and more opportunity to engage in casual sexual activity.
People are marrying and beginning families at ages later than previous generations while becoming sexually mature at an earlier age.
Historians D'Emilio and Freedman put the beginning of casual sex, including college hookups, further back in history, to the early 1800s, and explain the phenomenon as shaped by historical and cultural forces.
Some factors are associated with an increased risk of feeling bad afterwards – these include having sex with someone you have known for less than 24 hours, drinking heavily or taking drugs beforehand, feeling you ought to rather than you want to, and hoping for a relationship afterwards.
Interestingly, the Canadian study found that high-quality sex rarely led to regret.
We’re most likely to do this at university, where up to 80 per cent of undergraduates have hook-ups .
Sex within relationships is said to improve cardiovascular health, reduce depression and boost immunity, but social science research has often linked casual encounters to feelings of sexual regret, low self-esteem and psychological distress, especially among women.