As sexting has become more prevalent in the public eye in the past several years -- perhaps most notably in the Anthony Weiner scandal -- researchers have delved into trying to understand what compels people to take part in sexting behaviors.

A study by Indiana University-Purdue University and published in Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking explored the expectations people have when taking part in “sexting,” or, as the study states, “the exchange of sexually explicit material via Internet social-networking site or mobile phone.”

The study had three main goals: to understand expectations behind sexting (whether the hope of hook-up prompted the deed), to analyze how demographics like sexual identity, relationship status or gender might have an effect on sexting behaviors, and “whether these concurrent relationships are consistent with a theoretical causal model in which sexting expectancies influence sexting behaviors.”

278 undergraduate students, with the average age of 21, were included in the study, and 53.8% of these were female.

Around 13 to 44 percent of young adults, between the ages of 18 and 26 sext. Even about 2.5 percent of adolescents, 13 to 19-year-olds, also have partaken in sexting.

The study considered sexting a “specific risk behavior” – meaning it’s a risky activity due to potential consequences, but people do it anyway because of certain expectancies. Expectancies are an individual’s perception of a certain behavior’s outcome, and are often referred to in the context of alcohol, gambling, or binge-eating behaviors. In short, person’s expectancies predict their behavior, and the researchers were curious to see if this could be applied to sexting as well -- calling them "sextpectancies."

What makes sexting somewhat risky are its potential consequences. The report notes that some of these include cyberbullying, social humiliation, psychological distress, and even legal issues. Sexting can turn from an initial flirtation into something more grim that one of the parties may feel uncomfortable with or offended by.

In conclusion, the study noted that some of the differences between expectancies of sexting involved the varied level of risk involved for single people in comparison to those in relationships.

"[F]uture prospective designs could examine differential negative outcomes across demographic groups, as well as whether or not certain sexting behaviors, such as sending pictures vs. sending messages, might be riskier than others," the study states.