Table of Contents
Nowadays a number of individuals are willing to engage in sexual relationships without marital potential or emotional involvement, and most probably to seek sexual relationships with multiple partners. This is what is currently referred to as hooking up, considered as a form of no-string-attached sex. This behavior is mostly found in young, precisely college students. Many one-night stands are considered to occur when both parties are under the influence of drugs or alcohol. However, this is not the only reason as it can occur when young people are exploring their sexuality; single individuals engaging in sexual activities without any relationship commitment or married individuals who want extramarital sex without distracting their family relationships.
Gender roles direct and constrain individual’s behavior over a broad range of settings including intimate relationships. Much research has evaluated the influence of gender roles in academic and professional settings, but less attention has been paid toward the influence of gender roles in sexual behaviors. As little research has been conducted concerning sociocultural factors affecting sexual behaviors, and because gender based roles and norms probably exercise prominent influence on sexual relationships, I find this lack of attention unfortunate. Age is also a factor that plays a role in sexual behavior as most of the changes in sexual behavior are likely to be identified with young people as compared to old people. The purpose of this study is to evaluate the role of gender and age in sexual behaviors.
Review of Research
This section will present an overview of work done previously that provides the required background for this research purposes. It will concentrates on various sexual behaviors topics and factors that affect sexual behaviors. This section will begin with a thorough coverage of sexual behaviors topics which will assist in setting the context of this research.
According to Li and Kenrick (2000), men and women consider looks a lot when it comes to determining a partner for short-term sexual relationships. Their research question focused on the issue as to whether women and men are similar or different in terms of preferences for short-term relationships. These researchers found that although women and men vary in their willingness to take part in one night stands, whenever they opt to, both sexes prioritize appearances or looks in their companions. Five studies were run by Li and Kenrick to examine a short-term mate selection. In study 1 and 2, there were 394 participants (heterosexual undergraduates), who used ‘mate budgets’ to design their ideal short term partner, whereby participants had different amount of ‘mate dollars’ to allot to differing characteristics, efficiently impelling participants to rate the level to which they search characteristics such as social status, physical attractiveness, and kindness in a short term partner (Li & Kenrick, 2006). In the two studies, both genders allocated more than twice the share of the ‘mate budget’ for physical attractiveness than for other traits or characteristics. Nevertheless, when the participants were enquired if they would have a short-term relationship or one night stand with the partner they created, men were much willing to respond positively. In a follow up study, Li and Kenrick asked the participants to remember the last time they regarded having casual sex and to rank the degree to which they were driven by factors such as an effort to improve their social reputation, a desire for a long term relationship with the partner or physical attraction. Of all the participants who conceived having casual sex, the highest ranked reason that they were physical attracted to the person (Stambor, 2006).
According to Fisher and Cox (2009), latest evidence indicates that women are receptive, even though less than men, to proposes of sex. They also argue that women’s preference for attractiveness increases when they look for short-term relationships compared to long-term relationships. Their research focused on exploring women’s receptivity with respect to romantic relationship length and type, and examines how receptivity is influenced by male attractiveness. There were 94 heterosexual women participants. The procedure to carry out the study involved three phases. In the first phase, participants were asked to rank male and female faces using a likert scale from 1 (extremely unattractive) to 7 (extremely attractive). The second phase comprised of a pencil and paper survey. Finally, in the third phase participants were presented with male faces and they were supposed to record whether they would be interested in meeting those people for long-term relationship, short-term relationship or one night stand. The findings of this study indicate that women are willing to take the most attractive men for any type of romantic relationship. Additionally, the study indicate that short-term relationships bore the greatest rate of receptivity, which shows that this type of relationship offers a trial period for probable long-term partners, and as a result, presents a compromise between committed long-term relationships and purely sexual relationships (Fisher & Cox, 2009).
In most of the college campuses, engaging in one night stand sexual behaviors with non-committal partners has become a norm and raises the potential for psychological and physical trauma, unintended pregnancy, and disease (Reiber & Garcia, 2010). The predominance of sex in the evolutionary process indicates that predictions inferred from evolutionary theory can be a valuable initial step toward interpreting these contemporary behaviors. Reiber and Garcia study evaluated the attitudes and hook-up behaviors of 507 college students. As forecasted by behavioral-evolutionary theory, women were less comfortable as compared to men in any type of sexual behavior; women credited higher comfort level to men, but overrated men’s real comfort levels; and men credited lower comfort level to women, but also overrated women’s real comfort levels. The researchers concluded that both genders credited higher comfort levels to same-gendered others, strengthening a pluralistic ignorance effect that could lead to high frequency of hook up behaviors despite the low comfort levels suggested and reported that hooking up could be a modern type of intersexual competition between women for potential partners.
Townsend & Wasserman (2011), evaluated four predictions inferred from evolutionary theory in their study. The key hypothesis was that women and men have differing emotional mechanisms that evaluate and motivate sexual activities. The study involved 363 female and 333 male college students. Regression analysis of survey data from these participants showed that greater tolerance of sexual attitudes was firmly linked to a number of sex partners (Prediction 1); even when women willfully get involved in casual sexual relations, thoughts that conveyed vulnerability and worry crossed their mind; for females, a huge number of mates was linked with increased vulnerability-worry whereas the trend was opposite for males (Prediction 2); with an increasing number of sex mates, marital thoughts reduced; this finding was not controlled by sex of the subject; and it did not support prediction3; for both genders, huge number of mates was associated to large numbers of willfully causal sexual relations, partners foreseen in the next 5 years, and one night stands. This trend was identified to be stronger for males than for females (Prediction 4).
Garcia et al. (2013) reviewed the literature concerning sexual hook-ups and came up with some suggestions. These researchers identified popular cultural changes as one of the issues that have revolutionized sexual behaviors by infiltrating the lives of adults all over the developed world. Hookups have become more rooted in popular culture, showing both sexual scripts and changing social, and evolving sexual predilections. Hookup activities include a broad variety of sexual behaviors such as penetrative intercourse, oral sex and kissing. Nonetheless, these encounters commonly take place without any desire or promise for a more traditional romantic relationship. These researches have reviewed literature on sexual hookups and looked at the study of the psychological impacts of casual sex. The literature provided in this study is a transdisciplinary drawing on the theoretical and evidence tensions between sociocultural theory and evolutionary theoretical models. The study indicates that sexual encounters have become increasingly acceptable among young adults and adolescents globally, and may be best known from a biopsychosocial perspective. Nowadays, hookup culture exemplifies a marked change in acceptance and openness of uncommitted sex.
Heldman and Wade (2010) suggested a new research agenda based on the major findings of literature on hookup culture that focused on why and when this subculture came forth. They have explored a number of hypothesis trying to explain this sexual paradigm shift, including perceptions of sexual risk, new marriage norms, rising narcissism and self-objectification, the increased sexual content of non-pornographic media, consumption of and access to pornography, changes in nature of alcohol use, the gender distribution of students, and university and college policies. Their recommendations on a new area of research in sexual behavior focused on the benefits of longitudinal and cross-college designs, the need for intersectional studies and research of post-college and non-college-attending youth, the role of discrete events together with gradually emerging social change, and exploring psychological and structural as well as cultural factors.
Hook ups can be described as casual sexual encounters between two parties without clear mutual anticipation of a committed relationship or further interactions. A study by Owen, Fincham and Moore (2010) utilized a short term prospective design to evaluate predictors of hooking up. The participants in the study were 394 young adults. Hooking up over the earlier year, loneliness, alcohol abuse, and affirmative reactions to prior hook ups were connected with hooking up for a period of 4 months. Alcohol use was identified as a greater predictor for women than men. Thoughtfulness concerning relationship religiosity and transitions were identified as critical predictors of hooking up in univariate analyses, but not critical in multivariate analyses. Young adults who recounted feelings of loneliness and more depressive symptoms initially and later engaged in penetrative hook ups recounted lower feelings of loneliness and fewer depressive symptoms after sometime as compared to young adults who never hooked up. Nevertheless, young adults who were less lonely and recounted fewer depressive symptoms initially and engaged in penetrated hook ups over a period of 4 months reported greater feelings of loneliness and more depressive symptoms after sometime as compared to young adults who never hooked up.
Fielder and Carey (2010), conducted a survey to estimate the prevalence of sexual hookups for first-semester female college students. They also carried out event-level evaluations to clear up the behavioral characteristics of the students’ most current hookup. The number of participants was 118 first-semester female college students. Hook ups involving anal sex, vaginal sex or oral sex were recounted by 51% prior to college, 36% in the course of the first semester, and 60% by the end of the first semester. Event-level analyses showed that hook ups were most probably to involve acquaintances (23%) or friends (47%) instead of strangers (3%); alcohol use was accounted to come before 64% of hook ups. In 69% of vaginal sex hook ups, condoms were used. This study advanced the knowledge concerning the behavioral epidemiology of hookups by providing more detailed data concerning the context and behavioral topography of hook ups, and approximating the preponderance of particular behaviors in the hookup context. The results of this study indicate that several female students engage in sexual hook ups in their high schools and during their first semester in college. Hence, current reports outlining a new hook up among students are very accurate. Despite the fact that the behaviors happening within the hook up context are new, the level to which hook ups are becoming a normative way for young individuals to interact, specifically during college and with colleagues who are not romantic mates is remarkable (Reiber & Garcia, 2010). This study assist in understanding the hook up experience in regard to emotional reaction, condom use, sexual behaviors, alcohol use, and partner types. Fielder and Carey recommended more research that will explore the outcomes of their study so that they can come up with a concise conclusion concerning the effects of the current prevalent sexual behavior pattern.
From the literature reviewed in this section, there is a clear indication that a lot research concerning sexual behaviors has been conducted. All sources that were consulted admit that sexual behaviors are changing and a number of people are involved in non-committal relationships. Some studies attribute these changes to popular cultural changes, but they have not showed how gender and age affect sexual behaviors. There is little literature concerning how both genders contributed to the non-committal relationships where looks were identified to contribute to one night stands. Gender has been tackled a bit, but a lot need to be done to indicate how gender contributes to the ever changing sexual behaviors. However, there no single study that has evaluated the role of gender and age in sexual behaviors or practices. Therefore, the main goal of this study is to examine the role played by gender and age in sexual practices. In this context, this study intends to integrate both gender and age under one roof and evaluate the role they play in sexual behaviors.
Future Research Proposal
a) What is the research question?
The research question of this study would be ‘what role does gender and age play in influencing changes in sexual behaviors?’
b) What do you hypothesize?
The hypothesis of the study would be ‘gender and age play a number of roles in influencing changes in sexual behaviors’
c) Who are the participants? How are you doing the study?
Since I intend to evaluate the role of gender and age in sexual behaviors, I will involve both men and women in the study. The study will also involve a wider range of ages so that it will be easier to identify whether age play a role in sexual behaviors. The age will range from 18 years to 50 years. I would prefer to conduct this study within higher education institution because it will easier to get a variety of people from different backgrounds as well as with different ages. The total number participants I intend to use in this study would range from 100 to 300. The study will also involve both married and unmarried individuals, although more than 80% will constitute single people.
d) What are the measures (you can make up your own measures as long as they are really relevant to the construct)?
Measures would include sexual desire, and sexual attitude. In sexual desire, participants will be asked two questions. The first question will be “how frequently do you feel sexual desire?” and the second question would be “how frequently do you have sexual fantasies, thought or erotic dream”. Sexual attitude would be measured with several items.
e) What are the Independent and Dependent Variables?
Independent variables of the study are age and gender while dependent variables would be sexual behaviors such as vaginal sex, anal sex, caressing, and kissing or hugging.
f) What do you expect to find?
The study is expects to find how gender and age influence sexual behaviors.
g) Was your hypothesis supported? Why or why not?
My hypothesis was supported partially as I did not find a study that had information concerning the roles age plays in sexual behaviors. Gender roles in sexual behaviors were partially supported by much need to be done as most of the study was not investigating the roles of gender, only that gender was inevitable in their study.
h) What would your conclusions be?
My conclusion would be that gender and roles play several roles in influencing sexual behaviors changes. Sexual behaviors of young people are not similar to those of old people.
Researchers have identified significant issues concerning sexual behaviors and how non-committal relationships are on the increase. One night stand has become the order of a day, and there are some reasons identified as causing this rampant increase. For instance, looks and popular cultural changes were identified as one of the reasons contributing to non-committal relationships. Both men and women consider looks a lot when it comes to determining a partner for short term sexual relationships. Latest evidence indicates that women are receptive, even though less than men, to proposes of sex. Women’s preference for attractiveness also increases when they look for short-term relationships compared to long-term relationships. In most of the college campuses, engaging in one night stand sexual behaviors with non-committal partners has become a norm, and raises the potential for psychological and physical trauma, unintended pregnancy, and disease (Reiber & Garcia, 2010). The predominance of sex in an evolutionary process indicates that predictions inferred from evolutionary theory can be a valuable initial step toward interpreting these contemporary behaviors. Popular cultural changes are one of the issues that have revolutionized sexual behaviors by infiltrating the lives of emerging adults throughout the developed world.
Previous studies have set the context of the current study by helping me understand what have been done far concerning the sexual behaviors. From the previous studies, I was able to identify that little is done concerning the role of gender and age in sexual behaviors. In fact, many of the previous studies focused in the issue of popular cultural changes directly or indirectly. For instance, studies that were focusing on attractiveness and looks as factors contributing to one night stand, indirectly touched the issue of popular cultural changes in that many people nowadays are surgically modifying their looks. These findings will be important because they help me in setting questions that I will ask participants as I already have some knowledge as to what has contributed to sexual behavior changes.