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Casual Sex Can be Good, Study Reports

Update Date: Jun 26, 2014 02:19 PM EDT

Many studies have found that casual sex can be quite negative for one's mental health. These studies reported that casual sex can do a number on people's confidence and self-worth. However, according to new research out of New York and Cornell Universities, casual sex can have a positive effect.

For this study, the researchers recruited a group of 372 students attending NYU. The students were asked to keep a weekly diary over the span of 12 weeks. The participants were instructed to write about their sexual encounters and overall wellbeing. Casual sex was defined as engaging in sexual activity outside of a romantic and exclusive relationship. Overall, 42 percent of the participants reported having casual sex.

The researchers found that students who engaged in casual sex reported higher overall wellbeing. They also reported having less stress and better emotional health. Even though these study's findings contradicted other study's findings, they explain that their study found positive effects of having casual sex for people who wanted to engage in it in the first place. The researchers added that if people do not have casual sex for the right reasons, the activity could result in negative consequences.

"The effects of casual sex depend on the extent to which this behavior is congruent with one's general personality tendencies," the authors wrote according to TIME.

In a previous study headed by the same researcher, Zhana Vrangalova, Ph.D. from Cornell, Vrangalova had concluded that casual sex can lead to depression. In that study, the researchers had grouped people who engaged in causal sex into two categories defined by the people's reasons for participating in these activities. The reasons could be autonomous or non-autonomous. Autonomous reasons were defined as right reasons, meaning that people chose to have casual sex for themselves. Non-autonomous reasons were viewed as wrong reasons, such as having sex for revenge.

"I found that whether or not students hooked up during the course of the year was not related to their well-being at the end of the year," Vrangalova previously wrote according to HuffPost. "However, whether they did it for nonautonomous motives was."

The recent study, "Who Benefits From Casual Sex? The Moderating Role of Sociosexuality," was published in journal, Social Psychology and Personality Science.

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