(RNS) A new study of college women and dating finds that casualsexual encounters are prevalent, but close to a third of women on campusare virgins. "What is most surprising, perhaps, is that the college women in ourstudy are not the libertines that many media portrayals of unmarriedyoung adults would lead us to believe," reads a report conducted for theIndependent Women's Forum by the Institute for American Values. The national survey, released Thursday (July 26), found that 39percent of all college women said they had never had sexual intercourse.Nearly one-third -- 31 percent -- of seniors said they were virgins.Thirty-six percent of nonvirgins surveyed said they had not had sexualintercourse in the past month.

The study investigated women's feelings about "hooking up,"described as a physical encounter between uncommitted couples that canrange from kissing to having intercourse. Often these encounters takeplace when both participants have been drinking, the study said.

Forty percent of those surveyed nationwide said they had experienceda hook-up and 10 percent said they had had such an experience more thansix times.

Researchers also delved into college women's views about marriage.

Eighty-three percent of respondents agreed with the statement "Beingmarried is a very important goal for me." Sixty-three percent agreedthat "I would like to meet my future husband in college."

The Independent Women's Forum is an Arlington, Va.-basedorganization that conducts research on policy issues concerning women.

The Institute for American Values is a New York-based organizationfocused on the renewal of marriage and family life.

The 18-month study involved telephone interviews of 1,000 collegewomen across the country and had a margin of error of plus or minus 3percentage points. The study also included in-depth interviews with 62women on 11 college campuses.