Archives of Sexual Behavior

, Volume 40, Issue 3, pp 619–630 | Cite as

The Relationship Among Sexual Attitudes, Sexual Fantasy, and Religiosity

  • Tierney K. Ahrold
  • Melissa Farmer
  • Paul D. Trapnell
  • Cindy M. Meston
Original Paper

Abstract

Recent research on the impact of religiosity on sexuality has highlighted the role of the individual, and suggests that the effects of religious group and sexual attitudes and fantasy may be mediated through individual differences in spirituality. The present study investigated the role of religion in an ethnically diverse young adult sample (N = 1413, 69% women) using religious group as well as several religiosity domains: spirituality, intrinsic religiosity, paranormal beliefs, and fundamentalism. Differences between religious groups in conservative sexual attitudes were statistically significant but small; as predicted, spirituality mediated these effects. In contrast to the weak effects of religious group, spirituality, intrinsic religiosity, and fundamentalism were strong predictors of women’s conservative sexual attitudes; for men, intrinsic religiosity predicted sexual attitude conservatism but spirituality predicted attitudinal liberalism. For women, both religious group and religiosity domains were significant predictors of frequency of sexual fantasies while, for men, only religiosity domains were significant predictors. These results indicate that individual differences in religiosity domains were better predictors of sexual attitudes and fantasy than religious group and that these associations are moderated by gender.

Keywords

Sexual attitudes Sexual fantasy Religiosity Fundamentalism Intrinsic religiosity Spirituality 

References

  1. Ahrold, T. K., & Meston, C. M. (2010). Ethnic differences in sexual attitudes of U.S. college students: Gender, acculturation, and religiosity factors. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 39, 190–202.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Allport, G. W., & Ross, M. J. (1967). Personal religious orientation and prejudice. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 5, 432–443.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Altemeyer, B., & Hunsberger, B. (1992). Authoritarianism, religious fundamentalism, quest, and prejudice. International Journal for the Psychology of Religion, 2, 113–133.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Altemeyer, B., & Hunsberger, B. (2004). A revised Religious Fundamentalism Scale: The short and sweet of it. International Journal for the Psychology of Religion, 14, 47–54.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Bainbridge, W. S. (2004). After the new age. Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, 43, 381–394.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Bainbridge, W. S. (2005). Atheism. Interdisciplinary Journal of Research on Religion, 1, 1–23.Google Scholar
  7. Bang, E., Hall, M. E. L., Anderson, T. L., & Willingham, M. M. (2005). Ethnicity, acculturation, and religiosity as predictors of female college students role expectations. Sex Roles, 53, 231–237.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Barkan, S. E. (2006). Religiosity and premarital sex in adulthood. Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, 45, 407–417.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Baron, R., & Kenny, D. (1986). The moderator-mediator variable distinction in social psychological research: Conceptual, strategic, and statistical considerations. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 51, 1173–1182.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Bassett, R. L., Smith, H. L., Newell, R. L., & Richards, A. H. (1999). Thou shalt not like sex: Taking another look at religiousness and sexual attitudes. Journal of Psychology and Christianity, 18, 205–216.Google Scholar
  11. Beckwith, H. D., & Morrow, J. A. (2005). Sexual attitudes of college students: The impact of religiosity and spirituality. College Student Journal, 39, 357–367.Google Scholar
  12. Brasher, B. E. (1998). Godly women: Fundamentalism and female power. Piscataway, NJ: Rutgers University Press.Google Scholar
  13. Brotto, L. A., Chik, H. M., Ryder, A. G., Gorzalka, B. B., & Seal, B. N. (2005). Acculturation and sexual function in Asian women. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 34, 613–626.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Bryan, J., & Freed, F. (1993). Abortion research: Attitudes, sexual behavior, and problems in a community college population. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 22, 1–22.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Davidson, J. K., Moore, N. B., & Ullstrup, K. M. (2004). Religiosity and sexual responsibility: Relationships of choice. American Journal of Health Behavior, 28, 335–346.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  16. Davis, N. J., & Robinson, R. V. (1999). Their brothers’ keepers? Orthodox religionists, modernists, and economic justice in Europe. American Journal of Sociology, 104, 1631–1665.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Derogatis, L. R. (1979). The DSFI: A multidimensional measure of sexual functioning. Journal of Sex and Marital Therapy, 5, 244–281.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  18. Farmer, M., & Meston, C. (2006). Predictors of condom use self-efficacy in an ethnically diverse university sample. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 35, 313–326.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Farmer, M., & Meston, C. (2007). Predictors of genital pain in young women. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 36, 831–843.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Farmer, M., Trapnell, P., & Meston, C. (2009). The relation between sexual behavior and religiosity subtypes: A test of the secularization hypothesis. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 38, 852–865.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Fisher, W., White, L., Byrne, D., & Kelley, K. (1988). Erotophobia-erotophilia as a dimension of personality. Journal of Sex Research, 25, 123–151.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Froese, P. (2004). After atheism: An analysis of religious monopolies in the post-communist world. Sociology of Religion, 65, 57–75.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Gil, V. E. (1990). Sexual fantasy experiences and guilt among conservative Christians: An exploratory study. Journal of Sex Research, 27, 629–638.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Gorsuch, R. L., & Venable, G. D. (1983). Development of an “age universal” I-E scale. Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, 22, 181–187.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Hayes, B. C. (2000). Religious independents within Western industrialized nations: A socio-demographic profile. Sociology of Religion, 61, 191–207.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Heelas, P. (1996). The New Age movement: The celebration of the self and the sacralization of modernity. Boston: Blackwell Publishers.Google Scholar
  27. Heelas, P. (2002). The spiritual revolution: From ‘religion’ to ‘spirituality’. In L. Woodhead, P. Fletcher, H. Kawanami, & D. Smith (Eds.), Religions in the modern world (pp. 357–376). London: Routledge Press.Google Scholar
  28. Hirschman, C. (2004). The role of religion in the origins and adaptation of immigrant groups in the United States. International Migration Review, 38, 1206–1233.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Hood, R. W., Spilka, B., Hunsberger, B., & Gorsuch, R. (1996). The psychology of religion: An empirical approach. New York: Guilford Press.Google Scholar
  30. Horn, M. J., Piedmont, R. L., Fialkowski, G. M., Wicks, R. J., & Hunt, M. E. (2005). Sexuality and spirituality: The Embodied Spirituality Scale. Theology & Sexuality, 12, 81–102.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Hughes, J. L. (2008). Encouraging students to apply human sexuality material to themselves by using integration papers. American Journal of Sexuality Education, 3, 247–253.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Hunsberger, B. (1996). Religious fundamentalism, right-wing authoritarianism, and hostility toward homosexuals in non-Christian religious groups. International Journal for the Psychology of Religion, 6, 39–49.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Hunsberger, B., & Brown, L. B. (1984). Religious socialization, apostasy, and the impact of family background. Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, 23, 239–251.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Irwin, H. J. (1993). Belief in the paranormal: A review of the empirical literature. Journal of the American Society for Psychical Research, 87, 1–39.Google Scholar
  35. Jones, R. K., Darroch, J. E., & Singh, S. (2005). Religious differentials in the sexual and reproductive behaviors of young women in the United States. Journal of Adolescent Health, 36, 279–288.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Kell, D. B., & Oliver, S. G. (2004). Here is the evidence, now what is the hypothesis? The complementary roles of inductive and hypothesis-driven science in the post-genomic era. BioEssays: News and Reviews in Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology, 26, 99–105.Google Scholar
  37. Kinsey, A. C., Pomeroy, W. B., & Martin, C. E. (1948). Sexual behavior in the human male. Philadelphia: W.B. Saunders Co.Google Scholar
  38. Kinsey, A. C., Pomeroy, W. B., Martin, C. E., & Gebhard, P. H. (1953). Sexual behavior in the human female. Philadelphia: W.B. Saunders Co.Google Scholar
  39. Kirkpatrick, L. A., & Hood, R. W. (1990). Intrinsic-Extrinsic religious orientation: The boon or bane of contemporary psychology of religion? Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, 29, 442–462.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Lefkowitz, E. S., Gillen, M. M., Shearer, C. L., & Boone, T. L. (2004). Religiosity, sexual behaviors, and sexual attitudes during emerging adulthood. Journal of Sex Research, 41, 150–159.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Leitenberg, H., & Henning, K. (1995). Sexual fantasy. Psychological Bulletin, 117, 469–469.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Meston, C. M., & Ahrold, T. K. (2010). Ethnic, gender, and acculturation influences on sexuality. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 39, 179–189.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Meston, C. M., Trapnell, P. D., & Gorzalka, B. B. (1996). Ethnic and gender differences in sexuality: Variations in sexual behavior between Asian and non-Asian university students. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 25, 33–72.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Miller, A. S., & Hoffmann, J. P. (1995). Risk and religion: An explanation of gender differences in religiosity. Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, 34, 63–75.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Murray, K. M., Ciarrocchi, J. W., & Murray-Swank, N. A. (2007). Spirituality, religiosity, shame and guilt as predictors of sexual attitudes and experiences. Journal of Psychology and Theology, 35, 222–234.Google Scholar
  46. Nicholas, L. J. (2004). The association between religiosity, sexual fantasy, participation in sexual acts, sexual enjoyment, exposure, and reaction to sexual materials among black South Africans. Journal of Sex and Marital Therapy, 30, 37–42.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Pluhar, E., Frongillo, E. A., Stycos, J. M., & Dempser-McClain, D. (1998). Understanding the relationship between religion and the sexual attitudes and behaviors of college students. Journal of Sex Education and Therapy, 23, 288–296.Google Scholar
  48. Puttick, E. (1997). Women in new religions: In search of community, sexuality and spiritual power. New York: St. Martin’s Press.Google Scholar
  49. Roof, W. C., & McKinney, W. (1987). American mainline religion: Its changing shape and future. Piscataway, NJ: Rutgers University Press.Google Scholar
  50. Rowatt, W. C., & Schmitt, D. P. (2003). Associations between religious orientation and varieties of sexual experience. Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, 42, 455–465.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Stark, R., & Bainbridge, W. S. (1985). The future of religion: Secularization, revival and cult formation. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press.Google Scholar
  52. Stephenson, K. S., Ahrold, T. K., Pujols, Y., & Meston, C. M. (2009, February). The associations between motivations for sex and sexual satisfaction differ by gender. Podium presentation at the Annual Meeting of the International Society for the Study of Women’s Sexual Health (ISSWSH), Florence, Italy.Google Scholar
  53. Strasser, U. (2003). State of virginity: Gender, religion, and politics in an early modern Catholic state. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press.Google Scholar
  54. Thornton, A., & Camburn, D. (1989). Religious participation and adolescent sexual behavior and attitudes. Journal of Marriage and the Family, 51, 641–653.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Trapnell, P. (2005). A brief, balanced measure of New Age paranormal beliefs. Unpublished data, University of Winnipeg. http://www.paultrapnell.com/measures/Transpersonal&ParanormalBeliefScale-and-SpiritualityScale.rtf
  56. Weiss, A., Egan, V., & Figueredo, A. J. (2004). Sensational interests as a form of intrasexual competition. Personality and Individual Differences, 36, 563–573.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Woodberry, R. D., & Smith, C. S. (1998). Fundamentalism et al.: Conservative Protestants in America. Annual Review of Sociology, 24, 25–56.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. Wulf, J., Prentice, D., Hansum, D., Ferrar, A., & Spilka, B. (1984). Religiosity and sexual attitudes and behavior among evangelical Christian singles. Review of Religious Research, 26, 119–131.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. Zinnbauer, B. J., Pargament, K. I., & Scott, A. B. (1999). The emerging meanings of religiousness and spirituality: Problems and prospects. Journal of Personality, 67, 889–919.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Tierney K. Ahrold
    • 1
  • Melissa Farmer
    • 2
  • Paul D. Trapnell
    • 3
  • Cindy M. Meston
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversity of Texas at AustinAustinUSA
  2. 2.Department of PsychologyMcGill UniversityMontrealCanada
  3. 3.Department of PsychologyUniversity of WinnipegWinnipegCanada

Personalised recommendations