Publication Date


Document Type


First Advisor

Smart, Laura S.

Degree Name

M.S. (Master of Science)

Legacy Department

Department of Home Economics


Dating (Social customs); College students--Sexual behavior


The primary purpose of this study was to obtain descriptive data on contemporary college dating. A secondary purpose was to determine the relationship between dating experience and the following variables: sexual permissiveness, sexual experience, parental involvement, birth control, and alcohol and drug usage. The researcher distributed questionnaires to 479 randomly selected single male and female students at Northern Illinois University. Of the 187 questionnaires returned, 177 were used in the research. A date was defined by the majority of men and women as a prearranged social engagement between two people. The main purpose of dating was fun and recreation. The most common way that respondents met their dates was through a friend or at a party. Going out to eat, to a movie, or a party were found to be the main dating activities. The main topic of conversation was "our relationship." The majority of men and women positively viewed their parents' involvement in their dating. Approximately 40 percent of the men and women did not have a date during the week prior to the survey, and another 40 percent had one or two dates. Alcohol was consumed by most of the students on their last date. Marijuana and other drugs were used by very few students. Women did use marijuana and other drugs on an infrequent basis more than men did. Compared with men, women stated that they required a longer period of dating prior to engaging in kissing, petting, oral sex, and coitus. Women wanted more emotional involvement, as well, prior to engaging in these behaviors. Men were slightly more likely (30 percent) to report having had coitus on the last date than were women (23 percent). Consistent with previous studies, women in committed relationships were more likely to use birth control than were women who were not in committed relationships, and men who had started to date at or before age 15 were more likely to use birth control than were men who started dating at age 16 or later. Results were discussed in relation to previous research and theory. Implications of the study and future research ideas were suggested.


Includes bibliographical references.


ix, 146 pages




Northern Illinois University

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