Study on College Hook-Ups

ByABC News via logo

N E W   Y O R K, July 26, 2001 -- The phrase "hooking up" takes on a very specific meaning on most American college campuses.

Ninety-one percent of college women say a "hook-up culture" defines their campus, and a new study reveals they are right.

The report, titled "Hooking Up, Hanging Out, and Hoping for Mr. Right: College Women on Mating and Dating Today," indicates that casual sexual encounters are a big part of college life.

Isn't it Romantic?

If you have been off campus for some time now, you might not be too familiar with the hook-up. Three-fourths of those in the study agree on the following definition — The Hook-Up: When a girl and a guy get together for a physical encounter and don't necessarily expect anything further. A physical encounter can be anything from kissing to intercourse.

The report says the hook-up can happen in public places such as bars or dorms. And they almost always happen when the two parties who hook up have been drinking or are drunk.

Forty percent of the women in the study said they had experienced a hook-up. One in 10 reported having done so more than six times. At the same time, 63 percent said they want to meet a future husband at college and 83 percent said marriage is a major goal in life.

The study, commissioned by the Independent Women's Forum and released by, the campus project of IWF, is based on telephone interviews with 1,000 college women nationwide and in-depth interviews with more than 60 students.

Dr. Drew Pinsky, host of the MTV show Loveline, said the desire women show for commitment in the face of so many casual encounters suggests they fear asserting their true wishes. Pinksy told ABCNEWS' Good Morning America that the college campus is a young mans' perfect world.

"For the men, this is a very comfortable situation. I tour the country and speak to colleges all across the land, and I'll tell you that women are at best ambivalent about that and very commonly disillusioned," Pinsky said

A New Boyfriend?

Tara Chapman, a junior at Duke University, said her friends often wish to develop a relationship with guys they've hooked up with.

"I have a lot of friends who go into a hook up, they may have liked the guy, and they think something is going to come out of it, but nothing ever does, very few times," Chapman said.

Nyle Washington, a junior at Hampton University compares hooking up to accepting sloppy seconds in order to avoid loneliness.

"It is more like you have to fill that void of being wanted by someone, and since you're getting this attention from this one person, immediate attention, then you're feeling like oh, he likes me, he likes me! But sometimes your hook up can become somewhat endangered because you get emotional," Washington said.

College women say it is rare for college men to ask them on dates, or to acknowledge when they have become a couple. Only 50 percent of college women seniors reported having been asked on six or more dates by men since coming to college, and a third of women surveyed said they had been asked on two dates or fewer.

'The Talk'

Young women and men more often "hang out" rather than go on planned dates. They report that because they can hang out or hook up with a guy over a period of time and still not know if they are a couple, women often initiate "the talk" in which they ask, "Are we committed or not?" When she asks, he decides.

So what's a college girl to do? Pinsky said society needs to establish an acceptable script to negotiate what people want in a sexual relationship. He believes the sexual revolution dismantled the social norms that existed before it and we've yet to establish any new ones.

For now, the hook-up culture is likely to persist given that most boys seem to be pretty happy with the status quo.

ABC News Live

ABC News Live

24/7 coverage of breaking news and live events