The Social Factors of Hooking Up

by Jeffreypurhouse on April 10, 2014 - 10:51am

The Social Factors of Hooking Up

Article Summary

Social norms largely influence the relationships and sexual attitudes of all genders. In the past century, sexual attitudes have become more liberal; heterosexual premarital sex receives little social stigma (Allison & Risman, 2013). Although so, research is unclear as to whether the social trending attitude has gender-bias tendencies. Various researchers have shown college women will receive a negative reputation for engaging in too much sex, whereas men are often rewarded for equal behaviors (Allison & Risman, 2013). Allison and Risman (2013) sought to clarify if there are gender inequalities that hold a double standard for hooking up in the American college atmosphere: do women face stricter standards than men for casual sexual endeavors?

Allison and Risman (2013) used the gender structure theory as a theoretical framework for their research; this theorizes that gender is more than an individual-level attribute. Research was guided by three hypotheses that predicted double standards and its relationships to social affiliations.  Using a convenience sample from 22 colleges, the researchers attracted a sample size of 24,131 participants.  The researchers collected data through an online survey tool.

Major Findings & Conclusions

Allison and Risman (2013) show that frequent casual sex is still often stigmatized among college students, despite that “hooking up” is culturally viewed as a norm. Nearly 50% of the surveyed students claim to lose respect for both men and women who frequently hook up (Allison & Risman, 2013). A greater percentage of women lose respect for anyone who hooks up “a lot”, whereas a greater percentage of men than women report the traditional double standard, in that they criticize women more harshly than men for frequently hooking up (Allison & Risman, 2013).

Implications and Consequences

Modern society has influence over relationships and sexual desires. The author assumes that sexual values and practices have been changing in recent decades. The article describes a couple different implications. Many people hold a double standard related to hooking up; men are deemed successful whereas women are labeled negatively promiscuous when involved in “a lot” of sexual activity. Another implication is that social factors and affiliations largely influence sexual behavior. For example, men in athletic teams are often involved with more sexual activity and women are often not at involved as much as non-athletes with sexual activity. In this study, there was only one gender-related similarity: men and women tend to lose respect for people that involve in excessive amounts of sexual activity. As a consequence of multi-partner relationships, men and women are negatively affecting their reputation. Hooking up is a trend in colleges that involves more than just the couple that are engaged, but the society that judges and makes assumptions.


Allison, R., & Risman, B. J. (2013). A double standard for 'hooking up': How far have we come toward gender equality?. Social Science Research, 42, 1191-1206.doi:10.1016/j.ssresearch.2013.04.006