This book is a collection of twelve sociological studies that examine how active, faithful Latter-day Saint singles go about deciding to marry and selecting a mate. Since most of the research was conducted via surveys of BYU students and asks the question “What makes the Mormon marriage process different from the typical American process?” it accounts for a very narrow part of the worldwide LDS community. Focusing on this small segment is a good start but shows that research in LDS sociology is still often limited in its scope.
An introductory chapter by Thomas B. Holman provides the backdrop necessary for comparing LDS teachings and the American dating scene. His overview shows how Church standards are increasingly at odds with American culture, especially concerning young people’s desire to get married and comparative rates of sexual activity.
A highlight of the collection is “Hanging Out or Hooking Up: The Culture of Courtship at BYU” by Bruce A. Chadwick, Brent L. Top, Richard McClendon, Mindy Judd, and Lauren Smith. This piece was also printed in BYU Studies 46, no. 3 (2007): 67–90. It surveys BYU students’ responses to important questions about whether students actually want to be married (the answer is yes), how they go about dating (hanging out in groups is the usual way to start), and how they think they will recognize the person they want to marry (spiritual confirmation ranks highest, but only about one-fourth of students surveyed offered this response). The survey was conducted in 2002 and so provides a fairly up-to-date confirmation that students generally follow the counsel they are given at church.