Adolescents and emerging adults engage in hookups for a variety of reasons, which may range from instant physical gratification, to fulfillment of emotional needs, to using it as a means of finding a long-term romantic partner.Historians D'Emilio and Freedman put the beginning of casual sex, including college hookups, further back in history, to the early 1800s, and explain the phenomenon as shaped by historical and cultural forces.
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One study has found that the strongest predictor of hookup behavior was previous experience hooking up.
Those who have engaged in hookups that involve penetrative sex are 600% more likely to hookup again during the same semester.
As a result, Garcia and other scholars argue that young adults are able to reproduce physiologically but are not psychologically or socially ready to 'settle down' and begin a family.
These developmental shifts, Garcia's systematic review of the literature suggests, is one of the factors driving the increase in hookups, a "popular cultural change that has infiltrated the lives of emerging adults throughout the Western world." The review shows that hookups are becoming increasingly normative among young adults and adolescents in North America and have taken root throughout the Western world, which represents a notable shift in how casual sex is perceived and accepted.
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A hookup culture is one that accepts and encourages casual sex encounters, including one-night stands and other related activity, without necessarily including emotional bonding or long-term commitment.
Technological advancements such as the automobile and movie theaters brought young couples out of their parents' homes, and out from their watchful eyes, giving them more freedom and more opportunity to engage in casual sexual activity.
People are marrying and beginning families at ages later than previous generations while becoming sexually mature at an earlier age.
Another study was based on a survey of over 18,000 college students from ages 18–25.