Gender roles are among the most controversial subjects of empirical research. The Sex Roles journal sheds light on the complexity of gender and sex roles and their implications for the quality of human interactions.
That sex roles affect all individuals cannot be denied. Dating is no exception, but the benefits and costs associated with dating and hooking up for women and men are poorly understood. In their article, Bradshaw, Kahn and Saville explore the issue of hooking up versus dating in the context of gender roles (661). The researchers argue that hooking up has become a popular alternative to dating on college campuses, and its benefits for women and men have to be better understood (661). This is a psychological issue relevant to behavioral and social aspects of gender. Dating and hooking up are interesting objects of behavioral analysis within the gender roles discourse. Bradshaw, Kahn and Saville relied on earlier evidence that women experienced more benefits from traditional dating than hooking up, compared with men (664). The researchers hypothesized that “a woman’s preference dating over hooking up should be greater in situations that imply a possibility of a long-term relationship” (Bradshaw, Kahn & Saville 664).
Simply stated, men would be more likely than women to prefer hooking up to traditional dating (Bradshaw, Kahn & Saville 664). Bradshaw, Kahn and Saville also explored gender differences in the benefits and costs of hooking up and dating but did not propose any related hypotheses (Bradshaw, Kahn & Saville 664). To test their hypotheses, the researchers created a sample of 221 undergraduate students (Bradshaw, Kahn & Saville 664). 81.4% respondents were first-year students, and 96.4% of them were heterosexual (Bradshaw, Kahn & Saville 664).
Of all respondents, 115 reported to be single, 29 were in a relationship for less than 6 months, and 76 were in a relationship of more than 7 months (Bradshaw, Kahn & Saville 664). The respondents were provided with the basic definitions of traditional dating and hooking up and had to identify their preferences for one particular type of sexual relations in different situations (Bradshaw, Kahn & Saville 664-5). They had to indicate three benefits and risks of dating and hooking up (Bradshaw, Kahn & Saville 665). Finally, all respondents had to answer a few general questions, e.g. how many times over the last 2 years they had been on or initiated a first date, etc (Bradshaw, Kahn & Saville 665). The researchers used surveys to gather information from the participants.
They applied to complex statistical analyses to process the data. Bradshaw, Kahn and Saville found that women were more likely than men to benefit from traditional dating (667). By contrast, men more than women preferred to hook up (Bradshaw, Kahn & Saville 667).
However, contrary to expectations, women and men were equally committed to choosing dating in situations, when they were interested in establishing and retaining long-term relationships (Bradshaw, Kahn & Saville 667). Nevertheless, men continue to view sexual intimacy as an important benefit of hooking up and perceive dating as a serious risk to personal freedom (Bradshaw, Kahn & Saville 668). This is why men choose hooking up over dating. Men use hooking up and sexual encounters as an instrument for gaining a status (Bradshaw, Kahn & Saville 668). Evidently, this goal is much easier to achieve through hooking up rather than dating (Bradshaw, Kahn & Saville 668). The knowledge of dating/ hooking up preferences in women and men has far-reaching implications for the practical study of female and male psychology.
According to Bradshaw, Kahn & Saville, hooking up increases the feelings of guilt and risks of depression in women (668). Women feel uncomfortable with men’s hooking up behaviors (Bradshaw, Kahn & Saville 668). Unlike men, women experience coercion and pressure to engage in sexual behaviors, when hooked up (Bradshaw, Kahn & Saville 668).
The results of this study could help to create education programs for women, to teach them assertiveness and self-confidence in controversial dating/ hooking up situations and help men to establish relationships in ways that are comfortable for women.
Bradshaw, Carolyn, Arnold S. Kahn and Bryan K. Saville. “To Hook Up or Date: Which Gender Benefits?” Sex Roles, 62 (May 2010): 661-669. Print.