Another looked at more than eight hundred undergraduates to see whether individuals who engaged in casual sex felt more victimized by others, or were more socially isolated.
(The results: yes to the first, no to the second.) The studies were intriguing enough that Vrangalova was offered an appointment at N. U., where she remains, to further explore some of the issues surrounding the effects of nontraditional sexual behaviors on the individuals who engage in them.
The Web site was designed to open up the discussion of one-night stands and other less-than-traditional sexual behaviors. Critics see the high rates of casual sex as an “epidemic” of sorts that is taking over society as a whole.
Hookup culture, we hear, is demeaning women and wreaking havoc on our ability to establish stable, fulfilling relationships. Writing in 1957, the author Nora Johnson raised an eyebrow at promiscuity on college campuses, noting that “sleeping around is a risky business, emotionally, physically, and morally.” Since then, the critiques of casual sexual behavior have only proliferated, even as society has ostensibly become more socially liberal.
“One thing that was bothering me is the lack of diversity in discussions of casual sex,” Vrangalova told me in the café.
“It’s always portrayed as something college students do.
In the late aughts, Vrangalova started her research on casual sex in Cornell’s developmental-psychology program.
One study followed a group of six hundred and sixty-six freshmen over the course of a year, to see how engaging in various casual sexual activities affected markers of mental health: namely, depression, anxiety, life satisfaction, and self-esteem.
Over time, Vrangalova came to realize that there was a gap in her knowledge, and, indeed, in the field as a whole.
Casual sex has been much explored in psychological literature, but most of the data captured by her research team—and most of the other experimental research she had encountered—had been taken from college students.
With the Casual Sex Project, Vrangalova is trying to build a user base of stories that she hopes will, one day, provide the raw data for academic study.