Date of Award


Document Type

Union College Only

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts



First Advisor

Karen Brison




sexuality, college life, behavior, culture, biology


“Hooking up” is a relatively new and rather elusive term. It has no precise definition yet is used by college students all over America in a whole variety of contexts. At its simplest, hooking up is any physical contact with another individual outside the context of a committed relationship and can range anywhere from kissing to sexual intercourse. Here, through surveys, interviews, and observations, I explore the unique construction of the hook up culture and how it functions in the college atmosphere. Surprisingly candid, the Union College students provide an interesting look into the party scene, illuminating the hidden reality of college life, which may be quite different from common perceptions. In addition, I explore the biological basis of human sexual behavior and its implications in the formation and continuance of hooking up. The direct impact that both culture and biology have on human behavior is a complex affair. Here, I attempt to dissect the roles of each, while at the same time providing an interesting case study regarding young adult sexual behavior. My findings reveal several conclusions: (1) Hooking up is an elusive term with a wide range of meanings. It is most commonly used to refer to any sexual behavior, ranging from kissing to sexual intercourse. (2) Women participate in the hook up culture just as willingly as men. There exists no significant difference between the genders in regards to participation or opinion. (3) As a college student matures they become less involved with the hook up culture and instead begin to form committed relationships. However, senior year is the exception, with the number of relationships decreasing during this year. This demonstrates how college is a rite of passage and that hooking up is an antistructural behavior that disappears upon graduation. (4) Biology forms the foundation of human sexual behavior. However, cultural values and practices have the stronger influence in regard to molding the hook up culture.