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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.

Hookups began to become more frequent in the 1920s, with the upsurge of automobiles and novel entertainment, such as movie theaters.

This feature will provide you with updates on critical developments in psychology, drawn from peer-reviewed literature and written by leading psychology experts.

"CE Corner" appears in the February 2012, April, July/August and November issues of the Monitor.

The test fee is for members; for nonmembers. It is an unprecedented time in the history of human sexuality.

The APA Office of CE in Psychology retains responsibility for the program. In the United States, the age when people first marry and reproduce has been pushed back dramatically, while at the same time the age of puberty has dropped, resulting in an era in which young adults are physiologically able to reproduce but not psychologically or socially ready to "settle down" and begin a family (Bogle, 2007; Garcia & Reiber, 2008).

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Influencing this shift in sexuality is popular culture.

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.

Another film, "No Strings Attached," released in 2011, features two friends negotiating a sexual, yet nonromantic, component of their relationship.

In one study, among participants who were asked to characterize the morning after a hookup, 82 percent of men and 57 percent of women were generally glad they had done it (Garcia & Reiber, 2008).

The gap between men and women is notable and demonstrates an average sex difference in affective reactions.

In this article, we review the literature on sexual hookups and consider the research on the psychological consequences of casual sex.

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