07/09/2013 12:16 pm ET Updated Jul 15, 2013

Casual Sex Rare Among College Students, But Correlated With Anxiety: Study

While most college students are not having casual sex, one-night stands are correlated with anxiety, a new study has found.

The study, titled "Risky Business," was released in June in the "The Journal of Sex Research." It was led by Dr. Melina M. Bersamin of California State University, Sacramento, and surveyed 3,907 heterosexual college students, ages 18 to 25, from 30 different colleges. "Casual sex" was defined in the study as intercourse with someone the student had known for less than a week.

Researchers found that men were twice as likely as women to report casual sex, although only 11 percent of those surveyed overall had such an encounter. And despite the disparity between men and women engaging in casual sex, the study found a correlation between hooking up and emotional problems that did not discriminate by gender.

"College students who had recently engaged in casual sex reported higher levels of general anxiety, social anxiety, and depression compared to college students who had not had recent casual sex," the report said. Bersamin concluded that "casual sex was negatively associated with well-being and positively associated with psychological distress."

But Bersamin cautioned that the relationship between anxiety and casual sex was only "correlational."

"It may be that people who are depressed or anxious are more likely to seek out casual sex relationships, and not that casual sex causes depression or anxiety," Bersamin told U.S. News & World Report.

Previous research has shown that the motivation for having sex can affect a person's satisfaction with the intercourse, while different research found that men and women generally have sex for the same reasons: "for love, for commitment, and for physical gratification."

College students, however, tend to frown on peers they believe "hook up too much," according to one study, and another found that women of all ages say they avoid friendship with ladies they deem "promiscuous," regardless of their own sexual history.



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