Hayley Leveque wants to talk to you about sex.
A fourth-year psychology student, Leveque is in her final semester of the honours program, which requires students to develop and run a research experiment.
For her project, Leveque is polling couples between the ages of 18 and 25, and those over 30, on their relationships, and seeing how the two compare.
Her inspiration came from her friends and the various issues in their relationships.
“I was getting anecdotes and stories from friends where they were having difficulty staying together or figuring out the status of their relationships,” she said.
Some friends had also started experimenting with casual sex, and it got Leveque wondering why all these issues were occurring at these ages.
Her research is centred around the work of psychologist Jeffery Arnett, who, in 2000, wrote an article on a phase of life he labelled “emerging adulthood.”
Young people from 18 to 25, Arnett theorized, are free of the rules and regulations that held them in adolescence but have not yet reached the point where they have taken on the responsibilities of adulthood, such as careers or children.
During this time, emerging adults spend a lot of time thinking about the direction their lives will take, an extended period of self-discovery.
But Leveque hasn’t found a lot of research on the sexual relationships of this age group and how they differ from older people.
“If we can get a glance at some of the normative sexual behaviours of emerging adults as a group, we can start to figure out why these things are happening,” she said.
She hopes that her research will uncover the motivations behind young people’s relationships, the reasons why they are having sex. She sees her work as creating a better understanding about the nature of young adult relationships in general, a knowledge that Leveque feels could assist services such as couples counselling.
Leveque is still early on in her study, collecting interview subjects and compiling data. After that, she’ll analyze the data to see what makes emerging adults tick.
She can’t say what her hypothesis is or how many people have signed up (for fear of tainting the interview pool) but she did say that she’s looking for more people, especially those couples who are 30 or older, to talk about sex with her.
“Older adults are definitely harder to collect. They have kids to take care of and longer work hours,” she said.
Anyone interested in participating in the study can contact Hayley Leveque at 604-315-3931 or via email her.