Symposium 8: Navigating Casual Interactions, Dating, and Hookups: Consent, Communication and Misperceptions

  • 11:15 am To 12:45 pm on July 21, 2019
  • Gallery Room 1 Bramber House

Navigating Casual Interactions, Dating, and Hookups: Consent, Communication and Misperceptions

The “dating world” is full of comedy, complexities, and challenges. This symposium focuses on miscommunication and misperceived signals in casual interactions, dating, and hookups among college students in the United States. Together, our four studies examine gender differences in motivations for hooking up, misperceived flirting cues with a specific lens on person-level and interaction factors, as well as beliefs and behavior regarding consent via cluster analytic and focus group approaches. Our hope is that these studies help policy makers and educators recognize and understand the profound disconnect between policy and educational messages and what really happens during casual sex.

Just Say Yes? A Cluster Analytic Approach to Indicators of Sexual Consent

Miscommunication in sexual scenarios can lead to a variety of negative outcomes (e.g., regret, dissatisfaction, misconduct). As such, it is important to study potential differences in individual’s beliefs and behaviors about sexual consent. The current study examined 512 undergraduates in the United States, asking them to provide data on their most recent casual sexual interaction and how they obtained consent. Initial analyses revealed discrepancies amongst genders on what constituted behavioral indications of consent. A cluster analytic approach will be employed to determine if profiles of individuals beliefs and behaviors regarding consent exist.

“I’m Just Being Nice”: The Misperception of Friendliness as Flirtation

The current study examines the misperception of friendliness from the opposite sex as sexual interest. Thirty dyads of undergraduates were recorded interacting in a blind date simulation. These recorded interactions were then used as stimuli for another heterogenous participant sample (n = 300), who viewed and rated certain characteristics of the students (flirtation, seductiveness, etc.), completed a facial recognition task and various measures of constructs related to sexual misperceptions and misconduct. We expect to find that certain attitudes (e.g., hypermasculine belief systems, social desirability) and person-level factors (e.g., psychopathy, narcissism) have a main effect on misperceptions of sexual interest.

Not No is Not Yes: Ambiguity, Temporality, and Agency as Concepts Influencing and Confounding Consent in College Student Hookup Relationships

Affirmative consent, a conceptual reframing of what constitutes permissible and morally acceptable sexual activity, is increasingly popular on college campuses across the United States. This focus group study (n=33) asks how college students understand and navigate consent in their sexual encounters, and how their practices square with their university’s affirmative consent policy. Using inductive approaches to data analysis, we identified three interrelated themes: 1) ambiguity, 2) temporality, and 3) agency. Consistent with symbolic interactionist theories of human behavior (Goffman, 1959), this study will contribute to theory on sexual decision making and sexual relationships among emerging adults.

We’re Not All Looking for the Same Thing: Gender, Sexual Orientation, and Motivations to Hookup

This talk explores college students' motivation to engage in sexual hookups. Results suggest "horniness", "partner attractiveness", and "alcohol" are primary motives. However, motivations vary by gender and sexual orientation. Exclusively heterosexual women are more motivated by “alcohol” and “relationship potential”, whereas exclusively heterosexual males are more motivated by “horniness”. In addition, exclusively heterosexual males are more motivated by "alcohol" and "partner attractiveness" than are males who are not exclusively heterosexual. However, males who are not exclusively heterosexual are more motivated by horniness than males who are exclusively heterosexual. Hookup motivations also predicted pleasure, satisfaction, and regret about most recent hookup.