In a ridiculously biased “study”, a researcher has shown that some college students who self-select to participate in a study of “causal” sex and who say they like having “casual” sex, like having “causal” sex.
Time, at one time a news magazine, opened their article on the study with the words, “Turns out that no-strings-attached sexy times are good for you, so don’t let the haters stop you from doin’ your thang.”
What’s notable about is not the purposely poor grammar, but the curious and false idea that any who uphold traditional morality is a “hater”. Who are we to judge? Thank you, Justice Kennedy!
The “research” appears in the peer-reviewed “Who Benefits From Casual Sex? The Moderating Role of Sociosexuality” in Social Psychology and Personality Science.
Zhana Vrangalova, who compiled the wee p-values which were the bulk of her “proof”, runs a website which boasts the banner “Proud to be a Beacon of Permission”, and who has started the “Casual Sex Project” where readers are invited to submit their “hookup stories”, led the study.
Incidentally, and amusingly, in the comments to her front page one mystified reader asked “I want to know what kind of diseases can be occur by sex?” promoting the response by another reader “Not that kind of doctor”.
And of the sexually transmitted diseases caught when engaging in “causal” sex? Vrangalova said—wait for it—nothing. And of the “slip-ups” which result in biology having its way? Vrangalova repeated that same nothing.
So when Time said “good for you”, they didn’t mean good for you, but something else.
At Cornell (I weep), Vrangalova was allowed to email all 6,500 incoming freshman and juniors. Some 872 responded to the request to join a long study of causal sexuality. “A combination of monetary compensation, lottery prizes, and research credits was used as participation incentives.” Never mind about what combination, you hater, because Vrangalova remained mute.
Who volunteers to ‘fess up about their sexual conquests? Those who claim they enjoy “hookin’ up”, or, in Vrangalova’s word, are “restrictive”?
Only 560 of the 872 made it to the end. Those who didn’t fill out her questionnaire completely were also tossed.
Here comes the best part. I promise this is a direct quote.
“After excluding those…in a serious romantic relationship at both time points (to limit cases of infidelity; 155 cases), the final 9-month sample consisted of 371 students”.
So. “Casual” sex is good for you as long as you don’t consider it infidelity.
But wait, there’s less. Only a “subsample” of the remaining 371 were used. Yep. Those “in a long-term committed relationship, engaged, or married” were also dumped. How these folks differed from those in a “serious romantic relationship” was not said.
Anyway, the final sample, out of the 6,500 was 230, a 0.3% response rate; 65% females. Hey. This is research.
Then came the questions (e.g. “In everyday life, how often do you have spontaneous fantasies about having sex with someone you have just met?”). Somehow men and women answered differently, “therefore, scores were centered within sex prior to analyses.” Dude?
Participants were instructed to keep a diary of “f*** buddies” (asterisks added). The kiddies were also asked “to think of their most memorable sexual encounter that week and report how much they experienced ‘feeling genuine/true to myself’ and ‘being in control of what was happening’ during this encounter”. On a scale of 1 to 7, of course. The numbers are what make it science. Finally, questions about self-esteem and the like were asked and, of course, numerically scored.
I think—Vrangalova’s paper reads a lot like the Time article—only 80 (35%) had any “causal” sex. Over the period, the “Average proportion of weeks with casual sex was .09 (SD =.18) per participant”. Not a lot of “gettin’ you thang on”, then1.
How many lied, either by inclusion or exclusion? Well, you already know what Vrangalova said about that.
Then came the wee p-values, garnered through “Hierarchical linear models”, with the result “higher sociosexuality was linked to a significantly higher likelihood of engaging in weekly casual sex”. That means those who said they wanted to have “causal” sex were more likely to have it.
That’s the main finding, dear readers.
Vrangalova also split participants into two groups, whether they scored high or low on the sexual desire questions. Inside the high and low sexuality were those who had and not have “causal” sex. For example, take those in the low sexuality group. Those with did not have “causal” sex had a mean 3.5 “self-esteem” score; those who had “causal” sex had a mean “self-esteem” score of 3.4. The difference did not give a wee p-value.
But in the high sexuality group, those with no sex had a mean score of 3.9, and those who had sex had a score of 4. This difference gave a wee p-value.
The same sort of thing was repeated for “life satisfaction”. The conclusion is not that narcissists answer questions consistently, but that “causal” sex boosts self-esteem and life satisfaction.
But only in those who are not in a long-term relationship, not married, not engaged, not living together, not worried about infidelity, are not likely to be males, not lazy, and who would sign up for a study of “causal” sex for a combination of monetary compensation, lottery prizes, and research credit.
Just in case you’re too sanguine, let’s end as we began, with Time.
The study’s authors explained that “the effects of casual sex depend on the extent to which this behavior is congruent with one’s general personality tendencies.” So, in other words: if you want to have casual sex, you definitely should. If you do not want to have casual sex, you shouldn’t. The main takeaway of this study? You do you.
So long, Western culture! It was good to know ya.
1There is no typo here.