Researchers at a university in the Southern United States asked a fairly small sample of students about their dating preferences — whether they preferred “traditional” dating, or whether they just wanted to hook up. The data shows that “Overall, both genders showed a preference for traditional dating over hooking up.” But guess how the story was reported.
As hooking up takes over from dating as a means of heterosexual interaction on university campuses, more women than men continue to prefer dating whereas more men than women rate hooking up above dating.
I understand that’s more interesting than “most of the people surveyed preferred dating, regardless of their gender,” but it seems a little… irresponsible? Misleading? The article continues, focusing on the Amazing Gender Differences That Confirm Our Expectations:
However, of those students who strongly preferred traditional dating, there were significantly more women than men (41 percent versus 20 percent). Of those who showed a strong preference for hooking up, there were far fewer women than men (2 percent versus 17 percent). However, context mattered: when considering the possibility of a long-term relationship, both women and men preferred dating over hooking up; however, when the possibility of a relationship was not mentioned, men preferred hooking up and women preferred dating.
On the whole, men and women agreed on the benefits and risks of dating and hooking up.
However, there were some notable differences:
Women more than men seem to want a relationship. They fear, both in dating and hooking up, that they will become emotionally attached to a partner who is not interested in them.
Men more than women seem to value independence. They fear that even in hooking up relationships, which are supposed to be free of commitments, a woman might seek to establish a relationship.
So Science Says that women still want relationships! Men must be lured in!
Except, sadly, Science is not quite so clear as the article would suggest. From the study itself:
A limitation of this—and indeed most research on hooking up—is that our sample was a convenience sample composed primarily of White, heterosexual, first-year college students. Indeed, very little research has been conducted on samples from other populations. Further research needs to address whether the preferences for dating versus hooking up remain consistent across the college years and occur with equal frequency across non- college students of the same age, of other racial and ethnic groups, and with other sexual orientations.
A convenience sample, as I understand it, can’t really be applied to the broader population — it is pretty much only relevant to the surveyed individuals. So the finds of this study are, essentially, that these 150 women and 75 men have certain preferences. And these 150 women and 75 men are from a pretty narrow segment of the population. In other words: Non-findings.
Ugh, Science, you are so hard.
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