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Moreover, the fact that we defined casual sex in the way that we did (with a stranger within the past month), it is possible that we were tapping into a population at particularly high-risk due to high levels of impulsivity.At that level, mental-health factors may trump socialization or biology to wipe out gender effects.To measure well-being, we asked participants to rate their self-esteem, degree of life satisfaction, general sense of positive functioning (“psychological well-being”), and feelings of self-actualization (“eudaimonic” well-being).

On college campuses, where brief sexual liaisons are prevalent, unanticipated results can jeopardize a student’s career.As reviewed by Garcia and his co-authors, there are plenty. Despite the flood of media messages that hookups are okay, if not desirable, people may still feel that they’ve done something that violates their own internal standards.Feeling perhaps pressured to get involved because "everyone else is," they may develop performance anxiety, ironically setting the stage for future sexual dysfunction.On the positive side, due to the large size of our sample, we were better able than other researchers to institute statistical controls, particularly in terms of the inevitable errors that occur when measuring these sensitive psychological constructs.The only way to begin to tease out directionality in the casual sex/mental health conundrum is by conducting longitudinal studies, though even those will not be perfect.But an article by Sacramento State University psychologist Melina Bersamin, to be published in an upcoming issue of is based on a multi-campus study led by Miami University psychologist Seth Schwartz (Bersamin et al., in press).

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