Gender and Ethnicity in Dating, Hanging Out, and Hooking Up: Sexual Scripts Among Hispanic and White Young Adults

J Sex Res. 2016 Sep;53(7):788-804. doi: 10.1080/00224499.2015.1065954. Epub 2015 Oct 7.


We examined the scripts associated with heterosexual Hispanic and White young adults' most recent initial sexual or romantic encounter using two samples of heterosexual undergraduates: 224 Hispanic students (49% female) and 316 White students (51% female). Scripts were identified for three types of encounters: dating, hanging out, and hooking up. The three scripts had more than half of their actions in common. Items such as get to know one another, feel aroused, and engage in physical contact were present across all scripts for all participant groups. As expected, traditional gender roles were present within all scripts, but more so for dates than for hangouts and hookups. Men reported a higher presence of traditional gender roles than women across scripts and put a higher priority on the goal of physical intimacy across all scripts. Dating was the most prevalent script for all young adults, contradicting contemporary claims that "dating is dead." In terms of ethnicity, a higher proportion of Hispanic than White young adults went on dates, and a higher proportion of White students went on hookups, implying that social and contextual variables are important in understanding young adults' intimate relationships.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Female
  • Gender Identity*
  • Hispanic or Latino / statistics & numerical data*
  • Humans
  • Interpersonal Relations*
  • Male
  • Sexual Behavior / ethnology*
  • Sexual Partners*
  • Students / statistics & numerical data*
  • United States / ethnology
  • Universities / statistics & numerical data*
  • Young Adult