Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Study challenges popular perception of new 'hookup culture' on college campuses

A University of Portland study challenges the popular perception that there is a "new and pervasive hookup culture" among contemporary college students. "Recent research and popular media reports have described intimate relationships among contemporary college students as characterized by a new and pervasive hookup culture in which students regularly have sex with no strings attached," said study co-author Martin Monto, a sociology professor at the University of Portland. "This implies that the college campus has become a more sexualized environment and that undergraduates are having more sex than in the past. We were surprised to find this is not the case." In their study, Monto and co-author Anna Carey used a nationally representative sample from the General Social Survey of more than 1,800 18 to 25-year-olds, who had graduated from high school and completed at least one year of college. Monto and Carey, a recent University of Portland graduate with a BA in sociology and psychology, compared responses from 1988-1996 with those from 2002-2010, the era that researchers often describe as characterized by a "hookup culture." "We found that college students from the contemporary or 'hookup era' did not report having more frequent sex or more sexual partners during the past year or more sexual partners since turning 18 than undergraduates from the earlier era," said Monto, who along with Carey, will present the findings at the 108th Annual Meeting of the American Sociological Association. Among the 1988-1996 cohort, 65.2 percent reported having sex weekly or more often in the past year, compared to 59.3 percent of college students from the "hookup era." In addition, 31.9 percent of the earlier cohort reported having more than one sexual partner in the past year, compared with 31.6 percent of contemporary college students. Also, 51.7 percent of the earlier group reported having more than two sexual partners after turning 18, compared to 50.5 percent of the 2002-2010 cohort. In terms of attitudes toward other sexual norms, the researchers also found that contemporary college students were no more accepting than those in the earlier cohort of sex between 14 to 16-year-olds, married adults having sex with someone other than their spouse, or premarital sex between adults. But contemporary college students were significantly more accepting of sex between adults of the same sex. "Our results provide no evidence that there has been a sea change in the sexual behavior of college students or that there has been a significant liberalization of attitudes towards sex," Monto said. However, Monto said it is true that sexually active college students from the contemporary era were more likely than those from the earlier era to report that one of their sexual partners during the past year was a casual date/pickup (44.4 percent compared to 34.5 percent) or a friend (68.6 percent compared to 55.7 percent), and less likely to report having a spouse or regular sexual partner (77.1 percent compared to 84.5 percent). "Contemporary college students are coping with a new set of norms in which marriage occurs later," Monto said. "This means the idea of waiting until marriage to begin sexual behavior is a less tenable narrative. Courtship and relationship practices are changing, and the implications of these changes present a new unique set of challenges, but this study demonstrates that we are not in the midst of a new era of no rules attached sexuality. In fact, we found that, overall, sexual behavior among college students has remained fairly consistent over the past 25 years."

Monday, August 12, 2013

Beliefs about who should pay for dates

Chapman University's David Frederick will present new research at the 108th Annual Meeting of the American Sociological Association that examines men's and women's beliefs about who should pay for dates during courtship, and how couples actually go about splitting expenses. The paper, "Who Pays for Dates? Following versus Challenging Conventional Gender Norms," contains survey data from more than 17,000 participants; a quarter of whom also provided written commentaries to explain their beliefs and actions regarding paying for dates. "The motivation for the study was to understand why some gendered practices are more resistant to change than others; for example, the acceptance of women in the workplace versus holding onto traditional notions of chivalry," said Frederick, who co-authored the study with Janet Lever, of California State University, Los Angeles, and Rosanna Hertz, of Wellesley College. Conventional notions of chivalry dictate that on a "date," the man pays, whereas egalitarian ideals suggest gender should not determine who pays for the entertainment expenses. This research examines the extent to which people embrace or reject these competing notions after nearly 50 years of feminism. It is known that most marriages (8 in 10) today are based on sharing the breadwinner's burden, so one question was whether that role is shared prior to marriage and, if so, how early in the dating process. Consistent with conventional norms, most men (84 percent) and women (58 percent) reported that men pay for most expenses, even after dating for a while. Over half (57 percent) of women claim they offer to help pay, but many women (39 percent) confessed they hope men would reject their offers to pay, and 44 percent of women were bothered when men expected women to help pay. Nearly two-thirds (64 percent) of men believed that women should contribute to dating expenses, and many feel strongly about that: Nearly half of men (44 percent) said they would stop dating a woman who never pays. A large majority of men (76 percent), however, reported feeling guilty accepting women's money. In terms of behavior, even if men are paying a larger proportion of expenses, 4 in 10 men and women agreed that dating expenses were at least partially shared within the first month, and roughly three-fourths (74 percent of men, 83 percent of women) reported some sharing of expenses by six months. These data illustrate which people are resisting or conforming to conventional gender norms in one telling aspect of dating that historically was related to the male's displaying benevolent sexism and dominance as a breadwinner. Whereas young men and women in their 20s were the most likely to endorse egalitarian practices, this is a mass culture phenomenon — the same basic patterns were seen regardless of daters' ages, income, or education. Although there is evidence of resistance to change, the data suggest that the deep-rooted courtship ritual around who pays is also changing along with the transformation of the relative material and social power of women and men.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

One in Three U. S. Youths Report Being Victims of Dating Violence

About one in three American youths age 14-20 say they've been of victims of dating violence and almost one in three acknowledge they've committed violence toward a date, according to new research presented at the American Psychological Association's 121st Annual Convention. "Adolescent dating violence is common among young people. It also overlaps between victimization and perpetration and appears across different forms of dating abuse," according to Michele Ybarra, MPH, PhD. She is with the Center for Innovative Public Health Research, based in San Clemente, Calif. Researchers analyzed information collected in 2011 and 2012 from 1,058 youths in the Growing Up with Media study, a national online survey funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The study defines teen dating violence as physical, sexual or psychological/emotional violence within a dating relationship. Girls were almost equally likely to be a perpetrator as a victim of violence: 41 percent reported victimization and 35 percent reported perpetration at some point in their lives. Among boys, 37 percent said they had been on the receiving end, while 29 percent reported being the perpetrator, Ybarra said. Twenty-nine percent of the girls and 24 percent of the boys reported being both a victim and perpetrator in either the same or in different relationships. Girls were significantly more likely than boys to say they had been victims of sexual dating violence and that they had committed physical dating violence. Boys were much more likely than girls to report that they had been sexually violent toward a date. Experiencing psychological dating violence was about equal for boys and girls. Rates generally increased with age but were similar across race, ethnicity and income levels, according to Ybarra. The relationship between bullying and teen dating violence was the focus of a separate presentation by Sabina Low, PhD, of Arizona State University, and Dorothy L. Espelage, of the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. Low and Espelage detailed findings from a five-year study funded by the CDC and National Institute of Justice involving 625 American youths who completed surveys six times from middle school through high school. "Both boys and girls who engaged in high rates of bullying toward other students at the start of the study were seven times more likely to report being physically violent in dating relationships four years later," said Espelage, principal investigator on the project. "These findings indicate that bully prevention needs to start early in order to prevent the transmission of violence in dating relationships."