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For Immediate Release
September 27, 2004

Today Show, Newsweek Feature Research of TCNJ Professor


EWING, NJ .Dr. Elizabeth Paul, chair of the Psychology Department at The College of New Jersey, sat down for an interview with Ann Curry on the Today Show this morning to discuss sexual activity on college campuses.

Paul is an expert in the field of youth sexuality and has conducted extensive research on the phenomenon of the "hook-up." During the Today Show interview, Paul explained that "hook-up" is a contemporary version of the term "one-night-stand" but noted that, while its predecessor referred specifically to sexual intercourse, "hook-ups" encompass a broad range of sexual activities. The key point, Paul said, is that these encounters carry no expectation of a future relationship.

When asked if this is a new trend among students, Paul noted that sexual experimentation among young adults is hardly novel but that these brief interactions have become more common in recent years and may be, to some degree, replacing traditional relationships. Paul said that several students in her focus groups believe that "hook-ups" can offer an instant connection without the "baggage" that is associated with longer-term dating. She pointed out, however, that these encounters can have a significant downside as well. There are obvious physical concerns-sexually transmitted diseases and unplanned pregnancies-and participants are often left to grapple with troubling emotions afterward.

For Paul, what is most distressing is that parents are afraid to broach the subject with their children and students tend not to discuss bad "hook-up" experiences with friends. They rather internalize the negative feelings that arise from those instances.

The Today Show appearance was spawned by an article in the current issue of Newsweek magazine, in which the author examines "hook-ups" and the related research that is available. Paul, who published what many credit as the first academic article to explore this issue in depth, and her work are featured prominently in the piece, with much of the content being derived from a focus group that was held on the TCNJ campus.

"Risky sexual behavior among college students is a concern nationwide,' said Dr. Stephen Briggs, provost at The College of New Jersey. "Too often, campuses have avoided, ignored, or denied the existence of this issue. Dr. Paul's research probes why this behavior occurs, even among the most talented students and leaders of tomorrow. She is at the forefront of her field and is a tremendous resource for The College of New Jersey. Dr. Paul's work shows how good research can advance our theoretical understanding and also have significant real-world relevance."