Tired of bearing witness to horny youths who can’t seem to keep their hands off each other in public? A new study says you can take comfort in the knowledge that they're probably just doing it to show off.

The study, which was published in The Journal of Sex Research, studied men and women between the ages of 17 and 35 (although the average age was 18) to determine the motivations and consequences of getting hot-and-heavy outside the bedroom.

Of the 349 survey participants (155 women and 194 men), 37 percent of men and 32 percent of women said they engaged in “public making out” (or PMO – which the researchers described as "kissing on the mouth, with or without the use of tongues, and fondling breasts and buttocks”) on a frequent basis before college.

The majority of participants (but more-so men) said they engaged in this behavior "to enhance their image or status by proving they were capable of making out with a particular person." But what exactly that meant differed between the sexes.

Thirty-eight percent of male participants reported trying to get respect from their peers by engaging in PMO, saying that the act helped them “look like a player” or “get more credit.”

While 27 percent of female respondents also reported seeking respect from their peers, they were more interested in making those peers jealous than their male counterparts were.

Another major discrepancy between male and female respondents involved their perceived consequences of engaging in PMO. While women worried about appearing promiscuous, male respondents didn’t, and even benefited from it.  

Relationship expert Dr. Nicole Martinez, whose opinion was sought on these findings, said the worry of being labeled a “slut” for engaging in PMO wasn’t limited to young women.

"Females of all ages who are affectionate in public, or who are the initiator, are viewed differently than if a male did the same thing."

h/t Broadly.