Social Exchange and Social/Physical Topography of One-Night Stands in College-Age Students

Marelich, William D.; Graham, Jamie L.
December 2013
Electronic Journal of Human Sexuality;12/31/2013, Vol. 16, p8
Academic Journal
The purpose of this current study was to assess the one-night stand phenomenon using personal interviews with individuals who recently had a single-night sexual encounter. It was expected that topographical features would be identified as well as common attributes one looks for in a sexual partner. Social Exchange Theory was used to explain the common patterns and trends of these sexual occurrences. Participants were 28 college-age students recruited from a large university in Southern California who recently had a one-night stand. Thematic qualitative analysis was performed documenting emergent themes of the precursors of one-night stands through multiple readings of interview transcripts. Themes were divided into four broad categories: behavior setting features, themes shared across gender, themes unique to males, and themes unique to females. Behavior setting features associated with hookups included the physical setting, alcohol use, and how well dressed the hookup partner was. Shared themes across gender included being recently single or unhappy in a current relationship, "flirty" touching behaviors from the partner, and being in a social setting with a group of friends. A single unique theme for males was noted; males tended to hookup with females who reacted positively to their humor. Unique themes for females included a long cultivation period by the male, the male appearing confident, the male showing extreme interest in the female, the male's exotic appearance, and the perception that the male could help with the female's career and finances. Based on Social Exchange Theory, one-night stands operate as a form of reward-cost exchange, and behavior settings can have an influence on seduction


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