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The Shift from Dating to Hooking up in College: What Scholars Have Missed

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Abstract

In recent years, research has been building that suggests dating has been replaced by hooking up as the dominant way for heterosexual students to get together on college campuses. Although recent studies have documented the phenomenon of hooking up, there is evidence that this behavior was likely in place long before it was recognized in the literature. Yet, for the past several decades, scholars have continued to examine ‘dating’ among college students. This calls into question whether scholars missed a fundamental shift in how heterosexual men and women form sexual and romantic relationships on campus. In this paper, I will (i) review the major findings on hooking up, (ii) explain the differences between traditional dating and hooking up, (iii) explore when traditional dating declined and hooking up emerged on the college campus, and (iv) discuss the effect of this shift on the literature.

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