Risky Business: Is There an Association between Casual Sex and Mental Health among Emerging Adults?

a Department of Child Development , California State University , Sacramento.
The Journal of Sex Research (Impact Factor: 2.7). 06/2013; 51(1). DOI: 10.1080/00224499.2013.772088
Source: PubMed


A multiethnic sample of single, heterosexual, emerging-adult college students (N = 3,907) ages 18 to 25, from 30 institutions across the United States, participated in a study about identity, culture, psychological well-being, and risky behaviors. Given ongoing debates about the connection between casual sex and psychological adjustment, in the current study we assessed the cross-sectional association of participation in casual sex with psychological well-being and distress. A greater proportion of men (18.6%) compared to women (7.4%) reported having had casual sex in the month prior to assessment. Structural equation modeling indicated that casual sex was negatively associated with well-being (ß = .20, p < .001) and positively associated with psychological distress (ß = .16, p < .001). Gender did not moderate these associations. For emerging-adult college students, engaging in casual sex may elevate risk for negative psychological outcomes.

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    • "Christianson, Johansson, Emmelin, & Westman, 2003; Schmitt, 2004) and psychological well-being (Bersamin et al., 2014), leading to culture-specific consequences for health prevention and promotion. However, hitherto engagement in casual sex has been primarily examined from a mono-cultural perspective. "
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    ABSTRACT: Casual sex such as spontaneous sexual interactions with strangers (i.e., one-night stands) represents a common sexual experience for many young adults. Previous research focused either on individual differences or on cross-cultural effects that predict the engagement in one-night stands. This study integrates both lines of research and examines the effects of four personality traits (extraversion, neuroticism, sensation seeking, and the need for affect) on the number of one-night stands in two countries (Germany and Spain). A web-based study on N = 913 adults (759 women) showed that extraversion and sensation seeking are the strongest predictors of engagement in one-night stands. These results were replicated for participants from both countries indicating universal personality effects across cultures. The study highlights the importance of adopting an individual difference perspective in sex research.
    Full-text · Article · Apr 2016 · Personality and Individual Differences
    • "Indeed, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) declared adolescent sexual risk taking (including casual sex, inconsistent condom use, and the combination of sex with alcohol and/or drugs) a critical public health priority (CDC, 2008CDC, , 2014). Furthermore, it was found that casual sex has detrimental effects on mental health and psychological well-being in adolescence and emerging adulthood, including associations with depressive symptoms, psychological maladjustments, distress, sexual victimization, and even suicidal ideation (Bersamin et al., 2014;Fielder, Walsh, Carey, &amp; Carey, 2014;SandbergThoma &amp; Kamp Dush, 2014). It is important to keep in mind, however, that women's free sexual expression, including casual sex, can be a source of empowerment, resistance to gendered stereotypes, and positive psychological outcomes, such as a sense of freedom, confidence, and agency (Berdychevsky, Gibson, &amp; Poria, 2014;Peterson &amp; Lamb, 2012). "
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    ABSTRACT: Link to a free download of the article: The purpose of this phenomenological exploration was to shed light on the constellation of factors anteceding young women's sexual risk taking during their tourist experiences. A total of 15 in-depth interviews (1.5 to 2.5 hours each) with 13 women were conducted and analyzed through the lens of transcendental phenomenology. An analysis of antecedent factors revealed a confluence of sociopersonal characteristics (e.g., sexual definitions, attitudes, double standards, and age) and touristic attributes (e.g., the sense of temporariness/ephemerality, anonymity, and fun-oriented mentality depending on length, destination, and type of tourist experience) that underlie women's proclivity for and perceptions of sexual risk taking in certain travel scenarios. These result in myriad effects on physical, sexual health, sociocultural, mental, and emotional aspects of women's health and well-being. While the sociopersonal antecedents highlight the cross-pollination between sex-related perceptions in everyday life and touristic environments, the touristic antecedents emphasize the uniqueness of tourist experiences as the contexts for sexual risk taking. The findings address an underresearched topic in sex and tourism scholarship and offer implications for health education and intervention programs, pointing to the value of constructing the context-specific and gender-sensitive sexual health messages underpinned by the ideas of women's empowerment and sexual agency.
    No preview · Article · Nov 2015 · The Journal of Sex Research
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    • "The prevalence of hooking up among college students suggests that they see it as harmless, but hooking up can increase risk for harm in a number of different domains, particularly for women. Hooking up has been repeatedly associated with psychological distress and this association is often more pronounced for women than for men (Bersamin et al., 2014; Fielder & Carey, 2010a; Grello, Welsh, & Harper, 2006; Owen et al., 2010; Owen & Fincham,2011), perhaps because women are less comfortable with hooking up, and tend to feel more regret post-hook up than men (Fisher, Worth, Garcia, & Meredith, 2012; Lambert, Kahn, & Apple, 2003; Reiber & Garcia, 2010). Both men and women generally experience more positive than negative affect immediately following a hook up (Owen & Fincham, 2011; Owen, Fincham, & Moore, 2011), but women have more ambivalent emotional reactions than men and there is some evidence that the positive emotion women feel is related to their hopes that the hook up will turn into a committed relationship (Owen & Fincham , 2011). "
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    ABSTRACT: The explosive growth in access to the Internet has led to a commensurate increase in the availability, anonymity, and affordability of pornography. An emerging body of research has shown associations between pornography and certain behaviors and attitudes; yet, how pornography actually influences these outcomes has not been documented. In two studies (Study 1 N = 969; Study 2 N = 992) we examined the hypothesis that pornography influences potentially risky sexual behavior (hooking up) among emerging adults via sexual scripts. Our results demonstrate that more frequent viewing of pornography is associated with a higher incidence of hooking up and a higher number of unique hook up partners. We replicated these effects both cross-sectionally and longitudinally while accounting for the stability of hook ups over the course of an academic semester. We also demonstrated that more frequent viewing of pornography is associated with having had more previous sexual partners of all types, more one occasion sexual partners ("one night stands"), and plans to have a higher number of sexual partners in the future. Finally, we provided evidence that more permissive sexual scripts mediated the association between more frequent pornography viewing and hooking up. We discuss these findings with an eye toward mitigating potential personal and public health risks among emerging adults.
    Full-text · Article · Sep 2014 · Archives of Sexual Behavior
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