Article Review: "Pillow Talk: Exploring Disclosures After Sexual Activity" by Amanda Denes

By Alexander E. Hopkins
2012, Vol. 4 No. 09 | pg. 3/3 |

However, this also hurts her study because this only examines the “in a relationship” population. There is virtually no mention of the other 31% outside of the relationship are not accounted for. Even if Denes chose not to focus on this 31%, she could have tossed-out this data and still maintained credibility among her readers. After all, the main two variables that Denes was focusing on were the students in a committed relationship and those in a casual relationship.

It would be fair to assume that this 31% would likely not disclose any personal information after sexual activity, as they lack the emotional connection of a relationship to begin with. Even among the 31%, this distinction between committed and non-committed is blurred because there is a combination of committed and casual relationships. Denes could have defined what this combination was. A question that could help her make this distinction clearer would be:

If you are having sex with someone outside your current partner’s knowledge, what best describes you?

a. I am cheating on my current un-married partner

b. I am cheating on my husband/wife (i.e. an “affair”)

c. I am engaging in a ‘friends with benefits’ relationship with someone else and with my un-married partners approval

d. I am engaging in a ‘friends with benefits’ relationship with someone else and with my spouse’s approval

When Denes cited that she gathered data from 200 students, she did not specify whether these students were undergraduate or graduate students. Likewise, since the age range was cited as 18-26, there is no way to tell if the majority of students in her sample were undergraduates. Most traditionally-aged college undergraduates fall between the ages of 18-22, while graduate students would be 22 and over. Thus, the age range is split evenly through the middle. Similarly, a broader age range could have been an interesting aspect to explore. While sexual libido tends to decrease with age, married and un-married couples who are sexually-active would likely be able to offer interesting insight into “pillow talk” at their current social stages.

For most traditionally-aged college students, an undergraduate experience would likely be starkly-different than life as a graduate student. For many undergraduates, a few tenets of the “full college experience” would consist of living in an on-campus residence hall and having a meal plan. Life as a graduate student, on the other hand, is almost the complete opposite. Many graduate students are not traditionally-aged and usually live off-campus. Some graduate students have families to take care of and many are no longer financially-dependent on their parents. In sum, since there is more structure in a graduate student’s life (as opposed to an undergraduate’s “freedom”), the two groups would likely have contrasting views on love and sex.

Similarly, Denes pride her study as being “racially diverse” (Denes, 98). While her population sample is close to the actual demographics of UCSB’s campus, the sample has a concentration of 11% more Caucasians overall, which is somewhat disproportional to the rest of the campus (University of California—Santa Barbara, 2012). However, the real issue at stake is that racial diversity correlates to a diversity of beliefs. Likely, there are cultural and religious differences among them, both factors that can possibly play a role in influencing views on sexual relationships.

While Denes gives extensive credit to prior research in the form of parenthetical citations and an exhaustive reference bibliography, she does not include an appendix to give credit to herself. For her study, the appendix would ideally include: the questionnaire that she electronically-distributed to her subjects, as well as any charts/graphs/figures. Between the two, the former would have been more important because examining the questions can uncover any hidden biases in: question framing, question order and question choices, among many others. The latter would have been particularly interesting for any reader to examine, as a t-test can display graphical information once computed. Likewise, standard deviations can be compared graphically to the rest of the population.

A follow-up survey would have been interesting to employ because human communication is an ongoing process. Since the electronic survey that Denes used in the initial study was convenient, couples would be able to log back on to the website to impart additional findings. Certainly, there are factors that couples can discover over time that lead to more positive or more negative disclosures. Subsequently, this additional data could be used to draw distinctions in the current study, as well as laying the groundwork for an additional future study.

Overall, I found Denes’ study to be aiming at a worthwhile research question. However, I felt that she could have taken more time to describe her research methods and the structure of her study. The former would allow even the most casual reader to understand why she chose certain variables over others. Likewise, when examining young people—especially college students—it is important to understand that college is a time when most students are transitioning into adulthood. As such, they can and often do partake in activities that can affect their views and feelings when having sex. Several outlying variables, including and sexual orientation, need to be examined further to make more in-depth conclusive discussion points. Until then, the subject of Oxytocin’s effect on communicative behavior after sex will remain elusive.


References

Denes, A. (2012). Pillow Talk: Exploring Disclosures After Sexual Activity. Western Journal of Communication. 76 (2), 91-108.

Freedmen, R. (2010). University of California, Santa Barbara. Retrieved from http://orgs.bloomu.edu/tale/documents/flippedClassroom_Freedman(2).pdf.

Knight-Randolph, K. (2012). Top 10 Party Schools of 2012. Retrieved from http://www.fastweb.com/student-life/articles/3220-top-10-party-schools-of-2012?page=3.

Princeton Review. (2012). 2012 Princeton Review Party School Rankings. Retrieved from http://www.thebestcolleges.org/2012-princeton-review-party-school-rankings/.

The Regents of the University of California, First. (2011). http://www.physics.ucsb.edu/education/prospective/undergrad. Retrieved from http://www.physics.ucsb.edu/education/prospective/undergrad.

University of California-Santa Barbara Center for Nano in Society. (2010). Amanda Denes. Retrieved from http://www.cns.ucsb.edu/people/amanda-denes.

University of California-Santa Barbara. (2012). Quick Facts. Retrieved from http://www.admissions.ucsb.edu/quickfacts.asp.

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