Original Paper

Archives of Sexual Behavior

, Volume 42, Issue 8, pp 1473-1486

First online:

The Role of Family Structure and Attachment in College Student Hookups

  • Chelsea GarneauAffiliated withHuman Development and Family Studies, Auburn University Email author 
  • , Spencer B. OlmsteadAffiliated withDepartment of Child and Family Studies, College of Education, Health, and Human Sciences, University of Tennessee Knoxville
  • , Kay PasleyAffiliated withDepartment of Family and Child Sciences, College of Human Sciences, Florida State University
  • , Frank D. FinchamAffiliated withThe FSU Family Institute, Florida State University

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We examined the relationship between family structure and hooking up among emerging adults (N = 881) and the extent to which attachment moderated this relationship. Neither family structure nor number of structure transitions were related to the number of hookup partners in the past 12 months. Having an avoidant attachment, being an underclassman, consuming more alcohol, and not being in an exclusive relationship were related to having a greater number of hookup partners, and avoidant attachment was a stronger indicator of hooking up for men than for women. Among those who had hooked up in the past 12 months (63.8 %), family structure did not significantly differentiate those having a penetrative sex hookup (i.e., oral sex and/or intercourse) versus a non-penetrative sex hookup (i.e., kissing and/or sexual touching only). Findings were discussed in terms of their methodological implications for studying hookups, such as the collection of event level data and examining how family structure influences other correlates of hooking up.


Attachment Family structure Hooking up Emerging adulthood