Can Social Norms Theory Explain Sexual "Hookups" Among First-Year College Women?
Date of Award
Master of Science (MS)
Peter A. Vanable
hookups, sexual behavior, social norms
"Hookups" are sexual encounters between partners who are not in a traditional committed romantic relationship. The majority of college students engage in hookup behavior, but little is known about the social-cognitive determinants of this behavior. The present study used social norms theory to prospectively examine the influence of norms on sexual hookups among first-year college women. A total of 483 incoming female students were recruited at the beginning of August 2009. After completing a baseline survey in person, participants completed brief, monthly surveys online from August 2009 to August 2010. Surveys assessed sexual hookup behavior monthly; injunctive norms were assessed in August 2009 and December 2009. Students demonstrated both pluralistic ignorance and false consensus effects in regards to two types of injunctive norms: peers' attitudes toward hookup behavior and peers' hookup limits. As the discrepancy between self and perceived other hookup limits increased, the likelihood of engaging in future sexual hookups decreased. Further analyses revealed that participant's own personal hookup limit was the strongest predictor of future sexual hookup behavior.
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Sweeney, Shannon Marie, "Can Social Norms Theory Explain Sexual "Hookups" Among First-Year College Women?" (2012). Psychology - Theses. 4.