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College Hookups Are Not What People Think

Update Date: Aug 13, 2013 01:04 PM EDT

One of the most popular stereotypes about college is the fact that hookups happen frequently. With movies and television shows playing up that stereotype, it is no surprise that people start assuming that the majority of young people prefer hooking up to serious relationships. However, according to a new study, researchers are reporting that the hookup culture that exists in colleges is very much exaggerated.

In this study, the researchers used data on around 2,000 people from the General Social Survey. This survey is nationally representative, includes a diverse set of questions and has been conducted since 1972. Using new and old data, the researchers were able to monitor the shifts in America's hookup culture. They found surprisingly that not much has changed.  In the most recent set of data, the researchers reported that under one-third of all college students reported having more than one partner within the past year. This rate is around the same proportions recorded from 1988 to 1996 and between 2002 and 2010.

"College students today are not having more sexual partners [after] age 18, more sexual partners over the last year or more sex than their parents," the study's lead author Martin Monto said according to TIME. Monto is a sociology professor at the University of Portland in Oregon.  

Despite finding that hookups have not increased over the years, the researchers did fid that college students today are less likely to say that they have a spouse or a "regular sex partner." In the 2000s, around 77 percent of the students then reported having a spouse or a regular sex partner. In the 1980s to 1990s, the percentage was 85.

"We do see a decrease, but it's not huge," Monto said. "And part of that can be accounted for by a change in age of marriage."

The researchers attributed the cultural belief that children are hooking up more now than ever before to the fact that sex is more openly talked about. Some experts argue that the difference today is that people tend to have sex faster than before. But that does not mean that they are having more sex.

The study was presented at annual meeting of the American Sociological Association

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