New Study Says Casual Sex Is Good for You

Couple Relaxing In Bed Our society has been collectively wringing its hands over casual sex for generations. As hookup culture replaces dating and courtship becomes obsolete, people from all walks of life and political ideologies have expressed concern about the casual way many people view sexuality. According to a new study published in Social Psychological and Personality Science, though, all of this panic about casual sex is misplaced.

The Study

The study examined the sex lives of 371 undergraduate students by asking them to keep diaries cataloging their sexual exploits and their feelings about their sex lives. Students were followed for 12 weeks. Prior to beginning the study, researchers also asked students to complete a sociosexual orientation survey designed to elicit the students’ feelings about sex, love, and relationships. They found that students who endorsed casual sex were more likely to be extroverted and manipulative, and that men who endorsed casual sex were more likely to express sexist views.

Unsurprisingly, students who viewed casual sex as permissible were more likely to have casual sex during the study. Students who engaged in casual sex reported higher self-esteem and better well-being, as well as lower rates of depression and anxiety, than students who did not have casual sex. Contrary to popular wisdom about differences between male and female sexuality, researchers found that both men and women who endorsed casual sex could benefit from it.

Should We All Have Casual Sex?

Like many psychological studies, this research examined college students, who are not necessarily representative of the general population. It could be that college life makes casual sex beneficial, but that people outside of college don’t benefit from the practice. The study relied on self reports, which aren’t always reliable. It could be that some students lied about their feelings.

For now, though, the study does undermine the proposition that casual sex is always bad or that it is the product of low self-esteem. The researchers who conducted the study noted that people who approved of casual sex were more likely to see benefits from casual sex. Thus, the study may simply be showing that people who conform to their own values are happier.


  1. Grossman, S. (2014, June 24). Casual sex is good for you according to your new favorite study. Retrieved from
  2. Hess, A. (2014, June 24). New study finds that casual sex is good for you (if you are a jerk and male). Retrieved from

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  • Julia


    June 26th, 2014 at 10:38 AM

    I think that it is the last sentence that sums this up. It is all about adhering to the things that are important to you, those are the things that are going to keep you happy. It could be ablout the sex and then again maybe it is simply doing the things that feel right for you and offer you some kind of stress relief and a way to ease the tension. I do hope that those who say that they benefit from casual sex though are also aware of the negative things that this lifestyle can bring into your life and how careful they have to be to avoid the lowering of self esteem that this kind of behavior can eventually bring as well as the physical risks that you could be taking if you are not practicing safety first in every encounter.

  • jay


    June 27th, 2014 at 11:43 AM

    Men and women think about this a lot differently. Men are pretty much okay with casual hook ups while I think that women are mostly looking for more of a connection, more of a relationship.

  • Joss


    June 28th, 2014 at 11:05 AM

    This is a terrible message to put out, especially among young people.
    haven’t we been trying to fight this behavior for a long time, and now some study is going to come out and tell these kids no, no, never mind what we have been preaching and go out and have casual sex when you want?
    We want the numbers of unwanted pregnancies, STDs, those kinds of things to go down, not back up.
    How is spreading this sort of message ever going to send a note of good health and taking care of oneself into the population which it targets?

  • Jan Beauregard, Ph.D.

    Jan Beauregard, Ph.D.

    June 29th, 2014 at 4:13 PM

    I agree that the last sentence pretty much sums up this small piece of research. I would bet beer drinkers would support daily drinking and marijuana smokers would hail the benefits of daily toking. I have seen numerous articles linking causal sex to higher rates of depression in females. We have also seen a decline in marriage, a sharp rise in illegitimate children (leading to a guarantee pretty much in poverty for those children) and increased STD’s in our youth and young adult population. As a culture, we are finding more ways to be connected but fewer ways to be intimate. How is this “good health?”

  • Ron


    July 1st, 2014 at 12:14 AM

    This tends to confirm a suspicion that I have had for awhile, that religious prohibitions against casual sex may be generating a negative self fulfilling prophecy. I.e. if you feel guilty enough, you will have poorer relationships in the future; thereby creating a false study conclusion that people who abide by religious mores have healthier relationships. This study would suggest that further studies need to look at how our preconceptions precondition the outcomes.

  • Ron


    July 1st, 2014 at 12:18 AM

    P.S. Since when are children “illegitimate”?

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