Honors College

Document Type

Honors Thesis

Publication Date

Spring 2014


Previous research suggests that the sexual double standard still exists today, and that women face greater social repercussions for engaging in casual sex than men. This study investigates the effects of religious priming on attitudes toward a hypothetic female target, who is portrayed as either having a single or multiple romantic partners in the past year. In addition, we examined how participants preexisting levels of religiosity, sexual conservatism, and moral concerns might further affect attitudes toward this target. Consistent with our original hypothesis, self reported levels of religiosity, religious fundamentalism and right-wing authoritarianism are associated with more conservative attitudes toward sexuality. Interestingly, this relationship did not influence how our hypothetical character was evaluated. The multiple-partner Amber was rated more negatively than her single-partner counterpart, regardless of participants preexisting levels of religiosity and sexual conservatism. What did appear to be driving this effect were participant’s gender and relative moral concerns, specifically females and those who reported more purity/sanctity concerns. A consistent main effect was found for Amber’s number of partners and for the gender of the participant. For some variables, gender of participant and Amber condition interacted, such that women tended to reward her more than men when she had a single partner. Understanding how people evaluate others based solely on their perceived sexual activity is important, and could shed light on some critical issues, including women’s interpersonal relations and assault investigations.