This paper seeks to understand the correlation between casual sex and psychological health in humans. To explore this link, both a popular media source as well as a scholarly journal are used and summarized in this manuscript.
When it comes to casual sex, the world has established that there are physical and emotional ramifications for participating in such things. It has also been proven just what some of the physical/medical consequences can be. However, in examining whether or not there are psychological effects in practicing casual sex practices, there are differing points of view. If mental health is indeed affected, is it positive, negative or indifferent? What does research say about it? What about popular media?
There are many research studies and they have conflicting results. In “Journal of Sex Research” a compilation of studies was published entitled “Risky Business: Is There an Association between Casual Sex and Mental Health among emerging adults?” It sampled approximately 4,000 single, heterosexual, emerging-adult college students from multiple ethnicities and included 30 colleges and universities across America. The age range was eighteen to twenty-five and participants were assessed based upon their association of casual sex with psychological well-being and distress. It was found that “a greater proportion of men (18.6%) compared to women (7.4%) reported having had casual sex in the month prior to the assessment, (Bersamin, 2013).” The low overall numbers on both sides may actually decrease the validity of the studies suggesting that the practice is not all that common among participants. The article goes on to discuss percentages of emerging adults who engage in casual sex being defined as “having intercourse with a partner one has known for less than a week, (Bersamin, 2013).” It is highlighted that different psychological effects may occur in different types of casual sexual relationships. Therefore, it is noted that this compilation emphasized sex between two relative strangers as its foundation. While each study focused on differing questions and circumstances such as alcohol use, demographics and attitudes, it seemed that older studies found self-esteem issues and depressive symptoms associated with casual sex while some more recent studies did not. It is also noted that gender is a relatively significant consideration in perceptions regarding casual sex. “Men and women report persistently divergent attitudes toward casual sex, (Bersamin, 2013).” For example, multiple studies found that a fewer women reported positive reactions to casual sex than men. In the article, that can potentially be attributed to a societal double standard that accepts men for having more sexual relationships while discouraging that activity in women. All in all, it is agreed that more studies need to be done to better understand this possible linkage. As it stands, there is no consistent answer tying psychological effects to casual sex practices. Meanwhile, it is understood that mental health impacts the performance of college students and needs further evaluation into plausible causes. Ultimately, it was hypothesized that “(a) men would report higher rates of casual sex than women; (b) casual sex would be positively associated with psychological distress and negatively associated with psychological well-being; and (c) the relationship between psychological distress, well-being, and casual sex would be stronger for women than for men, (Bersamin, 2013).” The article gives further details on the racial and ethnic breakout, broad demographic data, different aspects of well-being that were studied and finally the results, presented using tables and a flow chart model. To culminate, the article briefly discusses the inability to accurately determine the linkage due to the small sample size of the assessment and other