Date of Conferral







Tracy L. Mallett


Numerous researchers have addressed the impact of individual religiosity or spirituality on psychological well-being. However, studies addressing the possible relationship between religiosity and sexuality, specifically in the form of deterrence of certain sexual thoughts or behaviors based upon religious dictates, remain sparse. Individual religiosity may be related to individual sexual self-expression. Built on the framework of cognitive-dissonance theory and self-determination theory, this quantitative, correlational study was designed to examine the relationships between religiosity and sexual attitudes and behaviors of both theist and nontheist population samples comprised of approximately 400 subjects throughout the United States. Study participants completed the Derogatis Sexual Functioning Inventory in addition to a demographic questionnaire designed specifically for the research. A 2-step hierarchical binary logistic regression was performed to address the research questions for this study. Significance was found in the regression model for 3 selected variables--age, drive, and fantasy; research questions 1 and 2 were supported with the model findings. The results also offered support for the 2 aforementioned theoretical frameworks selected for this study. The implications for positive social change include a clearer understanding of the possible relationship between religiosity and sexuality and any differences in sexual behaviors between theists and nontheists. These implications are important in that the findings may result in healthier sex lives for individuals, increased communication among couples, enhanced acceptance of different sexual orientations, and decreased cognitive dissonance among those individuals contemplating or struggling with sexual behaviors that negate the teachings of their religious tenets.