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Research has shown that college students are much less likely to go on traditional dates than they were in the past, but instead are “hooking up” with potential partners (Bogel, 2007). So what exactly is a hookup?
This vague term typically implies a physical or sexual encounter in which there is little to no promise for commitment (Bogel, 2007). While some argue that hooking up is simply a more modern term for dating, it is not the same thing. In a typical dating script, emotional ties precede sexual involvement. However, with a hookup, it tends to be the opposite. This can negatively impact people if they get involved in sexual relationships before feeling ready to do so.
Many generalize this cultural shift from dating to hooking up to all college-aged students. However, there are exceptions. Most of the research on hooking up has been carried out at residential schools and has focused on the behaviors of students after parties (which most often involves alcohol). Research shows that hookup culture does not exist to the same extent amongst commuter college students. Even though it is not as much a part of their lives, interestingly, commuter students still see hooking up as an important part of college experience (Allison & Risman, 2014).