The media suggest that uncommitted sex, or hookups, can be both physically and emotionally enjoyable and occur without "strings." The 2009 film "Hooking Up," for example, details the chaotic romantic and sexual lives of adolescent characters.

A number of studies have looked at regret with respect to hookups and have documented the negative feelings men and women may feel after casual sex.

In a large Web-based study of 1,468 undergraduate students, participants reported a variety of consequences: 27.1 percent felt embarrassed, 24.7 percent reported emotional difficulties, 20.8 percent experienced loss of respect, and 10 percent reported difficulties with a steady partner (Lewis et al., 2011).

With more emerging adults having casual sex, researchers are exploring psychological consequences of such encounters. Garcia, The Kinsey Institute for Research in Sex, Gender, and Reproduction, Indiana University, Bloomington; and Chris Reiber, Sean G. Merriwether, Binghamton University, State University of New York February 2013, Vol 44, No.

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Instead of courting at home under a parent's watchful eye, young adults left the home and were able to explore their sexuality more freely.

By the 1960s, young adults became even more sexually liberated, with the rise of feminism, widespread availability of birth control and growth of sex-integrated college party events.

Today, sexual behavior outside of traditional committed romantic pair-bonds has become increasingly typical and socially acceptable (Bogle, 2007, 2008).

Influencing this shift in sexuality is popular culture.

Hookups — defined in this article as brief uncommitted sexual encounters between individuals who are not romantic partners or dating each other — have emerged from more general social shifts taking place during the last century.