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Religiosity and Premarital Sex in Adulthood

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A growing body of literature finds an inverse association between religiosity and several types of deviant behavior. Although studies of adolescent sexuality form a large part of this literature, it is not clear that their results necessarily pertain to adults. This study examines the relationship between religiosity and the number of sexual partners among never-married adults in pooled samples of the General Social Survey. The major findings indicate that religiosity reduces the number of partners and does so partly because of moral disapproval of premarital sex. Additional analyses address whether the inverse association between religiosity and number of partners varies across gender and race categories. Final remarks address the theoretical importance of the findings and outline areas for further research.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Steven E. Barkan is a Professor of Sociology at the University of Maine, 5728 Fernald Hall, Orono, ME 04469-5728., Email:

Publication date: September 1, 2006

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