Date of Award

Spring 2012

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts



First Advisor

Dr. Randolph Lee


Many young people of today view sexual intercourse with a very casual attitude. The terms “hooking up” and “friends-with-benefits” have been introduced to our vocabularies. While young people are, on average, losing their virginity at the age of 17, they are holding off on marriage until their mid-to-late 20’s (Bogle, 2008; Bianchi & Casper, 2000), and that combination leaves many years for sexual experimentation. The present study was conducted to investigate some of the factors that may influence the decisions that young people are making when it comes to their sexual lives. An online survey developed for this study was administered by email to a random sample of 800 Trinity College undergraduate students and 288 responded. Some Ss were asked to report their own behavior, some were asked to give their assessment of the norm at the College, and others were asked to do both. It was hypothesized that factors, such as gender, religion, alcohol/drug use, and parents’ marital status would impact how students were behaving sexually. It was also predicted that students would perceive the sexual norm to be more promiscuous than it actually was. Results indicate that alcohol/drug use have an impact on more aspects of students’ sexual lives than gender, religion, or parents’ marital status. Students who frequently drank alcohol or used recreational drugs were more likely than expected to partake in various promiscuous sexual behaviors. Results also indicate that students perceive that their peers are more sexually promiscuous than they actually are. When this finding is thought of in the context of social norms (and that individuals often feel the desire/need to conform to the norm), it is suggested that college students feel pressure to conform to a false idea of normality.


Senior thesis completed at Trinity College for the degree of Bachelor of Arts in Psychology.