The relationship among sexual attitudes, sexual fantasy, and religiosity

Tierney K. Ahrold, Melissa Farmer, Paul D. Trapnell, Cindy M. Meston

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

80 Scopus citations


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.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)619-630
Number of pages12
JournalArchives of Sexual Behavior
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 2011


  • Fundamentalism
  • Intrinsic religiosity
  • Religiosity
  • Sexual attitudes
  • Sexual fantasy
  • Spirituality

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychology(all)
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)


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