The study defines dating as a traditional male-initiated process: The man invites the woman, he picks her up, he treats her, he takes her back home. He can ask for sex and she can refuse it. Hooking-up, on the other hand, is defined as a fairly egalitarian process about necking or kissing or intercourse or whatever. Either party can initiate it.
Note that there is no third alternative, such as some kind of egalitarian dating with going Dutch. It’s important to keep that in mind in evaluating the study findings. We have no idea how the study participants would have ranked egalitarian dating.
4. The checklists of items the study used (for the subjects to agree or disagree about) were not identical for men and women. An example about the possible benefits of traditional dating:
For the benefits of traditional dating, we listed 36 possible benefits for men and 34 possible benefits for women. Twenty-seven of these benefits were identical for both genders (e.g., “Traditional dating is romantic”), with the remaining possible benefits gender specific (e.g., for men, “You can ask anyone you are interested in on a date”; for women, “You have the power to reject a date”).
Similar gender differences were applied to the checklist covering the possible risks of traditional dating. The checklists for the benefits of hooking-up were identical for both sexes but the checklists for the risks of hooking-up were not:
Two items were gender specific. (“Risk getting pregnant” vs. “Risk of getting partner pregnant” and “Can get a bad reputation for being ‘easy’ or a whore” vs. “Can get a bad reputation of using women”).
Why would such differences matter if they are not about the questions discussed in the above summary? Because the overall experience might affect the answers one gives. For instance, men get reminded about their responsibility in the concept of traditional dating this study used, and that reminder is different from the reminders women get.
That’s why my point about the two choices is an important one. The study did not ask how students would have felt about egalitarian dating.