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Identifying the Causal Pathways from Religiosity to Delayed Adolescent Sexual Behavior


This study used the Integrative Model as a framework to examine whether religiosity delays onset of coitus among a longitudinal sample of virgins, and investigated the causal pathways of this relationship. In addition, this study examined the behavioral beliefs about the consequences of engaging in sex, which distinguishes between youth who vary in level of religiosity. A further analysis was also conducted to examine whether religiosity offers protective effects in terms of progression toward sexual intercourse on a sexual behavior index. The sexual behavior index assumes a progressive nature of sexual behaviors, and includes the following seven behaviors: kissing, having breasts touched (touching for boys), genital touching, receiving oral sex, vaginal intercourse, giving oral sex, and receiving (or giving) anal sex. Religiosity at baseline was negatively associated with sexual debut one year later. This relationship was mediated through attitudes toward personally engaging in sexual intercourse. Religiosity at baseline was also negatively associated with scores on the sexual behavior index one year later. These results suggest that religiosity offers protective effects for both coital and noncoital sexual behaviors.


  • Shawnika J. Hull
  • Michael Hennessy
  • Amy Bleakley
  • Martin Fishbein
  • Amy Jordan