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Pluralistic ignorance occurs when most individuals believe their attitudes are discrepant from the majority group’s attitude. Previous studies have demonstrated this effect in various situations such as alcohol use (Miller & McFarland, 1987), casual sex (Lambert, Kahn, & Apple, 2003), and other health risk behaviors (Hines, Saris, & Throckmorton-Belzer, 2002). The current study examines pluralistic ignorance in the context of hook up culture, and extends the previous findings by proposing two possible moderators: sociosexual orientation, which is how comfortable one is with uncommitted sex, and self-concept clarity, which is how confident one is in their beliefs and values. Additionally, this study examines motivations for hooking up and how sociosexual orientation predicts these motives. Participants were recruited from summer residents of Ursinus College, and were asked to respond to questions measuring sociosexual orientation, self-concept clarity, perceived norms, and motivations for hooking up. Results of this study reveal that for sociosexual orientation, individuals who are less comfortable with uncommitted sex view their own attitudes to be discrepant from the norm, believing the group is more comfortable. Individuals who are more comfortable with uncommitted sex also view their attitudes to be discrepant from the norm, seeing the group as less comfortable compared to the self. Self-concept clarity did not significantly moderate the pluralistic ignorance effect. Lastly, individuals more comfortable with uncommitted sex listed a variety of motivations for engaging in hook ups, whereas individuals less comfortable with uncommitted sex would not engage in hook ups.
Waite, Marisa, "Hooking Up: Pluralistic Ignorance, Sociosexual Orientation, and Self-Concept Clarity" (2018). Psychology Summer Fellows. 7.