Lead author Amanda Holman, a graduate student in University of Nebraska-Lincoln, and Alan Sillars of the University of Montana, drew their findings from a nearly 300-student sample at a large public university.
The study, published in the journal Health Communication, found 84 percent of students said they had talked with their college friends in the previous four months about hookups. Fifty-four percent of the students had participated in a sexual hookup during the school year -- 63 percent were male and 45 percent were female, the study said.
Thirty-seven percent of students reported two or more hookups during the school year, but 90 percent of the participants assumed that a "typical" student had been involved in two or more hookups, the study said.
The researchers said regular talk about hookups had a "normalizing" effect on students' views about the practice leading to a more approving attitude toward hookups and, often, riskier sexual behavior.
"We were interested in how communication about hooking up with friends and family may justify or normalize a potential risky behavior," Holman said in a statement. "Students with strong ties to peers and frequent peer conversation about sex were more strongly related to participation in hookups and more favorable attitudes towards hooking up."