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The proper APA Style reference for this manuscript is:
HALL, T. M. (2003). Religious and Gender Differences in Stereotypical Views on Sexual Promiscuity. National Undergraduate Research Clearinghouse, 6. Available online at http://www.webclearinghouse.net/volume/. Retrieved October 6, 2022 .

Religious and Gender Differences in Stereotypical Views on Sexual Promiscuity

Sponsored by: ELIZABETH HAMMER (eyhammer@loyno.edu)
Differences in how gender and religious affiliation affect views on sexual promiscuity were investigated. A survey was given to 116 undergraduate males and females of all races from Loyola University New Orleans. It was hypothesized that promiscuous males would be more accepted than females, religiously affiliated individuals would be less accepting, and that those sexually experienced would be more accepting. The results showed that male promiscuity was favored more so than female promiscuity. Religious affiliation was linked to less acceptance of sexual promiscuity and sexual experience was linked to a less negative view for promiscuous males. These results supported all three hypotheses presented at the beginning of the study. The results of this study provide a base for further research on this area of interest.
The field of psychology is a modern science and has only begun to explore how people and society cope and feel about various issues in life. People in today’s society have many varying views on issues of life such as abortion, school systems and animal rights. It is not recently that the views and the “changing sexual norms in American culture” have been studied (Peck, 1979). There has been a great amount of research done on sexual activities and the differences between the male and female gender regarding sexual views. It has been found that there are “different cultural and personal expectations of males and females” (Dankoski, Payer, & Steinberg). It is socially acceptable for the female to say that she engages in sexual activities if she is in a serious relationship and it is acceptable for males to partake in more promiscuous, casual affairs (Dankoski, Payer, & Steinberg). Within society there is this double standard when it comes to women and men and their sexual activities. This double standard can be defined “as a greater intolerance of intercourse between a female and [a number of males] than between a male and [a number of females]” (Robinson, Ziss, Ganza, & Katz, 1991). There has been a great amount of research done on these areas of interest, but when studied closely, there is a lack of research on particular age groups such as college-aged students. Also included in the literature on sexual promiscuity and its gender differences was sporadic statements that mention religion. In the study done by J. P. Roche and T. W. Ramsbey, Premarital sexuality: A five-year follow-up study of attitudes and behavior by dating stage (1993), it was found that the participants who were frequent churchgoers had “more conservative premarital sexual attitudes and behavior.” In relation to this, I. M. Grey and R. B. Swain found that “low-frequency mass attendees report[ed] holding [a] more promiscuous attitude” (1996). When results were concluded in R. C. Bailey and N. A. Vietor’s study, it was found that their subjects based their moral views of a frequent female dater by whether or not she attended church services (1996). It is our goal as researchers to develop a study that brings together these ideas of a double standard and how religious affiliation affects how one views sexual promiscuity within college-aged students. We hope to gain a further understanding of the varying perspectives on sexual promiscuity of both males and females of religious and nonreligious backgrounds by conducting a survey of various questions (see Appendix) adapted from the survey by Robinson, Ziss and Ganza (1991). We predict that promiscuity in males will be ultimately accepted and viewed less negatively than female promiscuity in a college aged testing group of males and females. We also predict that regardless of religious or nonreligious affiliation, promiscuity in females will be viewed more negatively than promiscuity in males. However, religiously affiliated individuals will be less accepting of sexual promiscuity in general. We predict that people with sexual experience will view sexual promiscuity less negatively in general than people who have not had sex. According to a study done by G. S. Miller Jr. in 1928, sexual promiscuity is not something that is learned, it “lies somewhere in the ancestry of social systems” (1928). Assuming that the notion of sexual promiscuity has found its base in primitive social developments, it is our goal as researchers to further the understanding of the acceptance of gender and religious differences and how these affect the view of the sexually promiscuous.

Participants Two hundred undergraduate students from Loyola University New Orleans volunteered to participate in the study. This convenience sample consisted of one hundred males and one hundred females under various, but mostly psychology, majors. These participants represented all racial/ethnic groups. This sample group was also a diverse group of religious and nonreligious affiliation.MaterialsA survey adapted from the 1991 questionnaire by Ira Robinson, Ken Ziss, and Bill Ganza was used in this study to analyze the views on sexual promiscuity in males and females and to question whether or not religious affiliation played any part in adopting these particular view points. The survey by Robinson, Ziss, and Ganza has multiple sections where their results came from. The section that was manipulated for the present study is table 3 which includes a range of statements. The participant is asked to rate their level of agreement, from strongly disagree to strongly agree, for each of these statements. The present survey includes statements similar to these but each was changed slightly. For example, from the 1965 survey the first statement is “I feel that sexual intercourse is immoral.” The present study includes this statement but the word “acceptable” was put in place of “immoral.” In addition to these statements, the present survey asks several multiple choice and yes or no questions which were developed particularly for this study. This survey is anonymous and gender and age are the only connection between a participant and a survey. Design and Procedure The study was non-experimental. Gender, sexual experience, religious affiliation and the resulting viewpoints on each question were the variables being tested in this study. No controls were used in this study. Testing was done over a period of three weeks consisting of 15 minute sessions. Each participant was either tested in a testing room or in random places around campus. Each participant was given a brief description of this study and made aware of the risk/gain factors of taking this survey. They were ensured their complete privacy and were told that this was completely anonymous and voluntary. They were given two informed consent forms and were instructed to read the forms and ask any questions they thought were necessary. Once the informed consent forms were collected, a survey was passed out to each person. After each participant finished with their survey, it was collected and the person was debriefed. They were allowed time to ask any questions they would like to have had answered regarding the survey and what the researchers hoped to conclude.

SPSS software output calculated that 51 females and 65 males were tested during this study. The age mean was 19.32 with a standard deviation of 1.06 (see Table 1 for remaining means and std. deviations). Results given by SPSS software showed support for the first hypothesis which stated that promiscuity in males would be more acceptable than promiscuity in females. There was a significant difference in positive views rating males and females ( t(115)= -12.053, p<.001. Significant results were also found to support hypothesis 2 which stated the predicted difference in acceptability of sexual promiscuity among those religiously affiliated (r=-.498, p<.001). The more religiously affiliated the subject, the less positively the subject viewed sexual promiscuity. Significant results were found again to support the final hypothesis regarding the predicted view that those who had more self-reported sexual experience would hold less negative views of those who are sexually promiscuous, r=-.357, p<.001. This result shows significance for only male promiscuity (r=-.213, p<05) and not female promiscuity (r=-.062, p>.05). Significant results, r=.438, p<.001, showed that male participants approved more of female promiscuity than females did. Significant results showed that the higher classification at the university the more negatively participants viewed promiscuous female, (r=-.243, p<.05), but there was a less negative view toward any particular promiscuous friend. Those participants who had more casual sex experiences viewed male promiscuity more positively, r=-.213, p<.05, but no significant results were found for female promiscuity.

The results of this study provide support for the hypotheses presented at the beginning of this study. There are significant results showing that males are viewed less negatively than females when the issue of sexual promiscuity is at hand. This finding runs parallel to the conclusion drawn in the study done by Robinson, et al. (1991) that females who are sexually promiscuous are viewed more negatively than their counterparts. Results were also found in support for the original hypothesis that those who were religiously affiliated were less accepting of sexual promiscuity. This result can be tied in to the Roche and Ramsbey (1993) study, which concluded that church attendance was related to a more traditional view of sex as well as the 1996 study by Grey and Swain which concluded that those who attended church very little had more promiscuous views. The hypothesis predicting that those who had sexual experience would view sexual promiscuity in males less negatively was also supported. In addition to these, the results showed other interesting findings. Male subjects were found to be more approving of female promiscuity than female subjects but there were no significant differences in the attitudes toward male promiscuity. It was also found that the higher classification the subject was, freshman to senior, the more negatively the subject viewed the promiscuous female. What was even more interesting with this finding was that the views of the subject changed to a less negative opinion when the promiscuous female was a friend. When casual sex came into play there was a more positive view towards the promiscuous male but no significant results for the promiscuous female.Because of the time constraint, only a minimal number of subjects could be tested. Although significant results were found for each of the hypotheses, a greater amount of participants would allow for more valid results. An equal number of males and females was not used in this study but would be a beneficial factor to control for future studies on the differences in gender views on promiscuity. Because we had a greater number of males participate in this study, our results are not as valid as what they could be with an equal number of each gender. The number of males outweighed the number of females tested so the results may lean more towards male views on the issues focused on. The actual scoring used in the survey should be tested for reliability before it is used again. The possible scores need to be tested to make sure that they hold constant weight for each participant. For example, the survey should be given multiple times to participants to make sure that each question is interpreted the way that it is meant to. Although the published survey (Robinson, et al. 1991), which was used as the basis of the present survey, was used before and tested for reliability, it had to be adapted to fit this study. Because of this there was no guarantee that it would produce reliable and valid answers. Participants were confused about several questions. One question that was raised during several testing sessions was pertaining to question 16 regarding the definition of the term “monogamous” (see Appendix). If this survey were to be used in the future, a list of all terms that could be misunderstood or unknown should be listed somewhere in the beginning of the survey for reference or possibly in the questions itself. It is recommended that if any further use of this survey were to occur, changes should be made to better validate it through trials of testing.These findings provide additional knowledge to help understand the ways that gender impacts views on the sexual experiences of others. It allows people in general to view how they may view others based on their actions. It allows people to see how there views compare to the views of others they may or may not associate with. It shows that religious affiliation may relate to how one view the sexual experiences of themselves as well as the experiences of others. It would be interesting for future researchers to possibly use this study as a basis of their own but focus specifically on religion or gender. It would allow for a deeper understanding of each of the variables instead of a broad vision of both of them. It was our goal as researchers to further the understanding of gender and religious differences and how these would relate to the views of sexually promiscuous people. We have only scratched the surface of these issues by doing this study. The knowledge humans can gain from concentrating on the many different views towards sex and what affects them has only begun.

Bailey, R. C., & Vietor, N. A. (1996). A religious female who engages in casual sex: Evidence of a boomerang effect. Social Behavior and Personality, 24, 215-220. Dankoski, M. E., Payer, R. & Steinberg, M. (1996). Broadening the concept of adolescent promiscuity: Male accountability made visible and the implications for a family therapist. American Journal of Family Therapy, 24, 367-381. Grey, I. M., & Swain, R. B. (1996). Sexual and religious attitudes of Irish students. Irish Journal of Psychology, 17, 213-227. Miller, G. S. Jr. (1928). Some elements of sexual behavior in primates and their possible influence on the beginnings of human social development. Journal of Mammalogy, 9, 273-293. Peck, D. (1979). Public health and sexual promiscuity. Corrective & Social Psychiatry & Journal of Behavior Technology, Methods and Therapy, 25, 94-99. Robinson, I., Ziss, K., Ganza, B. & Katz, S. (1991). Twenty years of the sexual revolution, 1965-1985: An update. Journal of Marriage & Family, 53, 216-220. Roche, J. P., & Ramsbey, T. W. (1993). Premarital sexuality: A five-year follow-up study of attitudes and behavior by dating stage. Adolescents, 28, 67-80.

Important definition:promiscuity: casual sex with multiple partners in a short time period, outside of an exclusive relationship

1. Circle the choice that applies to you:Male Female

2. Age_____

3. Classification: a. Freshman b. Sophomore

c. Junior d. Senior

4. How religious do you consider yourself to be? (in reference to your involvement with an affiliated church or institution)a. Not religiously associated or involved

b. Neutral

c. Somewhat religiously associated and/or involved

d. Very religiously involved 5. Rate the extent to which you are currently sexually active. (sexual activity is defined as oral-genital or genital contact with another). My last sexual activity was:

a. I have never been sexually active

b. More than a year ago

c. More than 3 months ago, but less than a year ago

d. More than a week, but less than 3 months ago

e. Within the last week

Circle the number that best suits your feelings regarding each individual statement.

1 2 3 4 5 Strongly Strongly Disagree Disagree Neutral Agree Agree

6. I consider myself religiously active. 1 2 3 4 5

7. I think that premaritalsex is acceptable. 1 2 3 4 5

8. The answer to question 7 is influenced by my religiousaffiliation. 1 2 3 4 5

9. I think that males who aresexually promiscuous are socially accepted. 1 2 3 4 5

10. I personally think that promiscuous males areacceptable. 1 2 3 4 5

11. The answer to question 10 is influenced by my religiousaffiliation. 1 2 3 4 5

12. I think that females who aresexually promiscuous are socially accepted. 1 2 3 4 5

13. I personally think that promiscuous females areacceptable. 1 2 3 4 5

14. The answer to question 13 is influenced by my religiousaffiliation. 1 2 3 4 5

15. I feel that premarital sexual intercourse is socially acceptable. 1 2 3 4 5

1 2 3 4 5 Strongly Strongly Disagree Disagree Neutral Agree Agree

16. I think it is appropriate for people to have sex outside of being in a monogamousrelationship. 1 2 3 4 5

17. A girl has sex withseveral nonexclusive partners ina short time period. I would consider her to be a "slut." 1 2 3 4 5

18. A male has had several sexual encounters in a brief time period. I would label him as a “pimp,” “male slut,” or other derogatory term. 1 2 3 4 5

19. A man who has had sexual intercourse with a number of women is socially acceptable. 1 2 3 4 5

20. The terms "slut" and "ho" are more frequently used as insults rather than joking remarks in conversation. 1 2 3 4 5

21. The term “pimp” is more frequently used as an insult rather than as a joking remark in conversation. 1 2 3 4 5

22. The decisions I make regarding my sex life arereligiously influenced. 1 2 3 4 5

23. My religious background has influenced my views on promiscuity. 1 2 3 4 5

1 2 3 4 5 Strongly Strongly Disagree Disagree Neutral Agree Agree

24. A woman whohas had sexual intercourse with anumber of men is socially acceptable. 1 2 3 4 5

25. My sexual actions have contradicted my religious views. 1 2 3 4 5

26. I agree that apromiscuous male could be labeled as a “slut” or “ho.” 1 2 3 4 5

27. Rate the connotation of the word "slut" by circling the rating you agree with.

Most negative Neutral Most positive-2 -1 0 +1 +2

28. Rate the connotation of the word “pimp” by circling the rating you agree with.

Most negative Neutral Most positive-2 -1 0 +1 +2

29. Have you ever had casual sexual intercourse (i.e. a one night stand or a sexual partner without being in a romantic relationship)? ___yes ___no

30. Have you ever known someone who has been promiscuous (a person who has had casual sex with multiple partners in a short time period, outside of an exclusive relationship?)___yes ___no

31. If the promiscuous person was female, did your opinion of her go down?a. Opinion stayed the same

b. Opinion went down a little bit

c. Opinion went down a lot d. Opinion went up

32. If the promiscuous person was male, did your opinion of him go down?

a. Opinion stayed the same

b. Opinion went down a little bit

c. Opinion went down a lot

d. Opinion went up

33. Do you think that there are negative terms for promiscuous males?

a. Definitely

b. Maybe

c. It is possible, but probably not

d. Definitely NOT

34. Rate your opinion of the promiscuous person that you are in acquaintance with. If you are in acquaintance with both promiscuous males and females, rate each in their respective categories. (Remember: You are rating the person as a WHOLE, not just their promiscuity.)

IF THE PROMISCUOUS PERSON YOU KNOW WAS MALE RATE HERE:Most negative Neutral Most positive ____-2 ____-1 ___0 ___+1 ____+2

IF THE PROMISCOUS PERSON WAS FEMALE RATE HERE:Most negative Neutral Most positive ____-2 ____-1 ___0 ___+1 ____+2


 Mean and Standard Deviations for Each Survey Item	N	Mean	Std. DeviationGender	116	1.56	.50Age	114	19.32	1.06Year	115	1.12	1.09Item4	116	1.51	1.00Item5	116	2.34	1.45Item6	116	2.99	1.25Item7	116	3.70	1.18Item8	116	2.51	1.31Item9	116	4.04	.87Item10	115	2.68	1.18Item11	116	2.30	1.17Item12	116	2.36	1.07Item13	115	2.61	1.11Item14	115	2.37	1.19Item15	116	3.94	.93Item16	116	2.52	1.32Item17	116	3.59	.91Item18	116	3.52	.93Item19	115	3.70	1.02Item20	116	2.98	1.13Item21	116	2.13	1.06Item22	116	2.57	1.25Item23	116	2.86	1.27Item24	116	2.59	1.02Item25	116	2.60	1.26Item26	116	3.58	1.05Item27	116	-1.05	.76Item28	116	.53	.94Item29	116	1.53	.50Item30	116	1.12	.33Item31	97	2.05	.80Item32	92	2.39	.77Item33	100	2.01	.86Item34	80	.27	1.08Item35	95	.11	1.19ATT_FEML116	2.7874	.6141ATT_MALE116	3.4871	.5672ATT_SEX	116	3.3851	.8654REL_INFL116	2.5241	1.0934

Submitted 12/8/2003 7:07:42 PM
Last Edited 12/8/2003 7:19:52 PM
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