How Do College Experience and Gender Differentiate the Enactment of Hookup Scripts Among Emerging Adults?

  • Spencer B. OlmsteadEmail author
  • Jerika C. Norona
  • Kristin M. Anders
Original Paper


Empirical attention to “hooking up” has expanded over time, yet limited attention has been devoted to understanding the hookup experiences of emerging adults (ages 18–25) who have not attended college and how they may differ from those who have attended college. Guided by life course and scripting theories, we used a storytelling methodology to content analyze the hookup stories of a large sample of college-attending and non-college emerging adults (N = 407). We also compared stories based on gender, as several studies report gender differences but have yet to consider how hookup scripts may differ between men and women. Overall, we found that college-attending and non-college emerging adults reported using similar hookup scripts in their most recent hookup experience, as did emerging adult men and women. However, we found that greater proportions of non-college emerging adults reported sexual touch, meeting in an “other location,” and positive reactions to their most recent hookup. Greater proportions of college-attending emerging adults reported their hookup occurred in a house/apartment. In terms of gender, greater proportions of women reported “having sex” and deep kissing, hooking up with an acquaintance, partner characteristics as a reason to hookup, and negative reactions to their most recent hookup. Greater proportions of men reported hooking up with a stranger, meeting at a bar/club, hooking up at a party, and hooking up at an “other location.” Implications for future research and sexual health education and intervention are discussed.


Hooking up Casual sex Emerging adulthood College student Non-college emerging adults 


Compliance with Ethical Standards

Ethical Approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki Declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Informed Consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Spencer B. Olmstead
    • 1
    Email author
  • Jerika C. Norona
    • 2
  • Kristin M. Anders
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of Child and Family Studies, College of Education, Health, and Human SciencesThe University of Tennessee, KnoxvilleKnoxvilleUSA
  2. 2.Department of Psychology, College of Arts and SciencesThe University of Tennessee, KnoxvilleKnoxvilleUSA
  3. 3.College of Human EcologyKansas State UniversityManhattanUSA

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