The purpose of this study was to examine the relationship between perceptions of each developmental feature of emerging adulthood and endorsement of each feature of the hookup culture with number of different hookup partners and hookup behaviors. Participants were 1219 college-attending emerging adults (ages 18-29 years) who completed an online survey about emerging adult experiences. After controlling for semester of data collection and known correlates of hooking up (e.g., age, sex, religiosity, and binge drinking experience), none of the developmental features of emerging adulthood were significantly associated with number of different hookup partners in the last 12 months. In addition, only one feature of the hookup culture was associated with number of different hookup partners: Hooking up is fun. In follow-up analyses among those who reported at least one hookup in the last 12 months (n = 807), some of the developmental features of emerging adulthood (e.g., experimentation/possibilities, negativity/instability) and features of the hookup culture (e.g., hooking up is fun, hooking up provides sexual freedom) helped differentiate reported involvement in various types of hookup behaviors. The most prominent and consistent correlate was number of different hookup partners in the last 12 months (increased likelihood of all behaviors, except deep kissing). Recommendations for understanding hooking up as a developmental and/or cultural experience are discussed.
Keywords: Casual sex; College students; Emerging adulthood; Hooking up; Hookup culture.