Social Motivations for College Hookups

Shemeka Thorpe, Arielle Kuperberg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


Hookups are a normative experience for college students with 72% of college students reporting hooking up by their Senior year. Although there is over a decade of research on hookups, what motivates college students to participate in hookups is not clear, with prior research focused mostly on psychological rather than social motivations, and differences by gender, but not exploring whether students differ in hookup motivations by other factors. This study explored whether students hooked up and hookup motivations among a random sample of 180 heterosexual college students at a Southeast university, and differences by demographic characteristics, marital age expectations, and parent and peers’ marital status. Results showed the majority of participants hookup up to feel sexual pleasure, with a significant minority motivated by relationship formation and the ‘college experience.’ Significant predictors of hookup motivations include gender, mother’s education, religiosity, parent’s coupled status, and friends’ marital status, while race and age differences were not significant. Results of a latent class analyses showed five distinct classes of social hookup motivations: older and younger abstainers, relationship seekers, pleasure pathway, and college scripts. Implications for future research are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)623-645
Number of pages23
JournalSexuality and Culture
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020, Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature.


  • College students
  • Hookups
  • Latent class analysis
  • Motivations

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Gender Studies
  • Cultural Studies


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