Review of Religious Research

, Volume 59, Issue 4, pp 471–497 | Cite as

Anti-pornography Narratives as Self-Fulfilling Prophecies: Religious Variation in the Effect that Pornography Viewing has on the Marital Happiness of Husbands

  • Jeremy N. ThomasEmail author
  • Becka A. Alper
  • Shane A. Gleason


Using a mixed methods design that compares quantitative content analysis of popular religious magazines with statistical analysis of national survey data, we show how the anti-pornography narratives that are predominant within different religious traditions can influence the effect that pornography viewing has on the marital happiness of husbands within those traditions. More specifically, we propose a causal chain that explains how meso-level anti-pornography narratives can influence micro-level pornography-effect scripts and, in turn, influence the effect that pornography viewing has on the marital happiness of husbands. We suggest, then, that this kind of causal chain can be thought of as a type of self-fulfilling prophecy. However, instead of operating exclusively at the micro-level as self-fulfilling prophecies have typically been theorized as doing, we apply the notion of the self-fulfilling prophecy to the meso-level, so that rather than just considering how individual thinking can lead to individual outcomes, we also consider how collective thinking can lead to collective outcomes.


Self-fulfilling prophecy Moral narratives Religious influence Pornography Marital happiness 



The authors thank the following persons for their helpful comments and suggestions: Jim Aho, Candace Christensen, Gesine Hearn, Dan Olson, Trina Running, Jim Stoutenborough, Laura Thomas, and three anonymous reviewers.


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Copyright information

© Religious Research Association, Inc. 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Sociology, Social Work, and CriminologyIdaho State UniversityPocatelloUSA
  2. 2.Pew Research CenterWashingtonUSA
  3. 3.Department of Political ScienceIdaho State UniversityPocatelloUSA

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