An important first step in research is to unambiguously and unequivocally be clear about the phenomenon you are studying.
The first step I took when launching my research on hookups is be clear on what exactly is a hookup?
My Gen Z students use hookups in a lot of different contexts like
“My friend hooked me up with this guy”
“X and I hooked up last night”
“X and Y have been hooking up since time”
Confusing, right? And the fact that the use of the term “hookup” changes with time did not help!
So I had to dig deep into existing research on hookups to understand (a) how hookups were originally defined, (b) how the definition has changed, and (c) what do hookups mean now?
The first formal definition of hookups was proposed in 2000 by scholars who said hookups were
A hookup is a sexual encounter,
usually lasting only one night,
between two people who may be strangers or acquaintances.
Some physical interaction is typical but may or may not include sexual intercourse (oral, vaginal or anal). Examples of physical interaction include kissing or making out, breast stimulation, and genital touching.
But the definition has progressively been revised because, turns out, students’ actual hookup experience is much different from this definition.
In my research study, I found that
Gen Z does not hookup for one night: Students hooked up with the same person once a month to once every 2-3 months
Gen Z does not hookup with strangers: 75% students had mutual friends; 80% added their hookup partner on social media; 47% are still in touch
Gen Z hookups are more sexual than sex: 48% sext; 41% just make out, 12% had oral sex, 48% vaginal/anal sex.