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Psychol Trauma. 2016 Jul;8(4):413-20. doi: 10.1037/tra0000090. Epub 2015 Dec 14.

Some types of hookups may be riskier than others for campus sexual assault.

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Department of Psychology.



The high prevalence of campus sexual assault (CSA) among college students in the United States is a chronic public health crisis. Some risk factors for CSA victimization, such as alcohol consumption and female gender, are firmly established, but the evidence for others is less robust. One factor that has received little attention in the literature on CSA is "hooking up," defined as a physically intimate dyadic encounter that may not entail further contact between partners. The purpose of the present study was to examine the role of hooking up, both as a general risk factor for CSA victimization, and the roles of different types of hookups, varying in degree of relatedness between partners, for different types of victimization.


A stratified random sample of female undergraduate students (n = 373) from a single, small campus in the northeastern United States completed measures of demographics, alcohol consumption, hooking up, and sexual victimization in an online survey.


Results revealed high-risk levels of drinking, and a low-to-moderate frequency of hooking up. Overall prevalence of CSA reported by this sample was 44%, with 40% reporting nonconsensual sexual contact, and 33% attempted rape or rape. Follow-up questions to reports of sexual assaults indicated that most (78%) took place during hookups, and that the riskiest hookups were those with acquaintances and previous romantic partners.


If found to generalize to other campus populations, the role of hooking up in sexual assault should be added to systems-based models of sexual assault (e.g.,Heise, 1998) and to educational prevention programs. (PsycINFO Database Record

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