Mental Health and Hooking Up: A Self-Discrepancy Perspective

Elizabeth Victor


One hundred seventy-two undergraduates took part in a study to evaluate how self-concept discrepancies and casual sexual involvement, both as independent and additive factors, predict negative and positive affect. Hierarchical regression analyses demonstrated that actual-ideal (AI) and actual-ought (AO) discrepancy were negatively associated with positive affect after engaging in hookups, defined as casual sexual encounters. However, the degree to which self-discrepancy predicted positive and negative affect varied by gender. Females with high AI discrepancy, who typically engaged in petting during hookups, reported increased negative affect, β = -.24, p < .001, while their male peers reported increased positive affect, β = .63, p < .01. Overall, self-discrepancy appeared to have a distinct and strong association with the sexual practices of young adults in this study and their subsequent positive and negative affect associated with these sexual practices.

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