Here’s Why College Students Hookup, Says Science

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College Hookups Explored

A recent study from the journal Sexuality and Culture reveals that a majority of college students hookup for the sole purpose of experiencing pleasure. A significant minority also reported a motivating factor to be relationship formation and the ‘college experience.’

According to this same study, seventy-two percent of college students have reported experiencing some type of hookup by their senior year.

With many colleges and universities planning for a full return to operations this fall, Men’s Variety spoke to Chicago-based psychotherapist Dr. John Moore about the study and what the results might mean for the future. Moore is host of the Men’s Self-Help Podcast, a program that is popular among college-aged men.

“The results are not all that surprising because college has traditionally been a time for self-exploration. What’s stood out with me regarding this study is that the data was collected in the fall of 2012, a time well before COVID appeared on the public radar,” says Moore.


“We’ve gone for over a year where traditional in-person learning was paused or disrupted in many locations. Now, with many colleges returning to ‘normalish’ schedules this fall, it will be interesting to see if changes happen with the college hookup culture. Will there be re-entry anxiety for some learners, which may reduce social interactions, or will there be a desire to experience physical intimacy?” Moore adds.

Re-entry anxiety is a term that is used in the mental health field to describe the dynamic where a person experiences feelings of apprehension with returning to a post-pandemic world.

For this investigation, 200 college students were surveyed who were between the ages of 18-24, with the majority identifying as heterosexual. The study was conducted as a single regional southern university.

Principle investigators Shemeka Thorpe and Arielle Kuperberg acknowledge that because their research was confined to just one university, the results cannot be generalized to the larger college population. Per their study, “Each university has its own unique scripts and hookup culture, and scripts also vary by school type.”

The complete results of their investigation can be found in Volume 25, Issue 2 of Sexuality and Culture, published in April 2021.

How do you think the college hookup culture will change when schools open this fall? Will motivations change post-COVID?

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