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Further, the on-campus interviews, because they go into much more depth, can reveal what lies behind some of the responses to structured questions and, therefore, can provide insights not revealed by the national survey results.
This study seeks to examine the dating and courtship attitudes and values of contemporary college women, focusing on unmarried, heterosexual women enrolled as undergraduates in four-year colleges and universities in the United States.
Since none of the 62 women interviewed in the qualitative portion of the study were enrolled in church-related institutions or in nonelite state-supported colleges, it is not surprising that these women were, on average, less religious than the women in the national sample and less traditional in some of their attitudes (see the comparisons in Appendix A, Table 2, available only in the pdf version of this report).
The largest and probably most important difference is that 78 percent of the national sample but only 37 percent of the qualitative study subjects "strongly agreed" with the statement, "I have a clear sense of what I should do in my romantic/sexual interactions" – an indication of greater confusion among women in the latter group.
Yet comparatively little research examines how young people meet, mate, and decide to marry in the first place.
As scholars, and as society, we seem to have little awareness that good marriages depend not just on the wisdom of the two young people making the choices, but also on institutional arrangements and social norms that are beyond the control of these individuals.