Discover the most talked about and latest scientific content & concepts.

Concept: Fornication


In the nationally representative General Social Survey, U.S. Adults (N = 33,380) in 2000-2012 (vs. the 1970s and 1980s) had more sexual partners, were more likely to have had sex with a casual date or pickup or an acquaintance, and were more accepting of most non-marital sex (premarital sex, teen sex, and same-sex sexual activity, but not extramarital sex). The percentage who believed premarital sex among adults was “not wrong at all” was 29 % in the early 1970s, 42 % in the 1980s and 1990s, 49 % in the 2000s, and 58 % between 2010 and 2012. Mixed effects (hierarchical linear modeling) analyses separating time period, generation/birth cohort, and age showed that the trend toward greater sexual permissiveness was primarily due to generation. Acceptance of non-marital sex rose steadily between the G.I. generation (born 1901-1924) and Boomers (born 1946-1964), dipped slightly among early Generation X'ers (born 1965-1981), and then rose so that Millennials (also known as Gen Y or Generation Me, born 1982-1999) were the most accepting of non-marital sex. Number of sexual partners increased steadily between the G.I.s and 1960s-born GenX'ers and then dipped among Millennials to return to Boomer levels. The largest changes appeared among White men, with few changes among Black Americans. The results were discussed in the context of growing cultural individualism and rejection of traditional social rules in the U.S.

Concepts: Marriage, Sexual intercourse, Human sexual behavior, Human sexuality, Generation Y, Strauss and Howe, Fornication, Adultery


Studies suggest that married people frequently engage in intimate relationships with people other than their spouses, and the literature has extensively examined motives for doing so. However, less is known about what factors prevent spouses from engaging in extramarital sex. While investment theory, interdependence theory, and moral theories offer insights into this question, they have not been subject to much empirical research. We examine these theories in relation to several characteristics of individuals and couples: gender, length of the marriage, and religiosity. In two studies, 423 participants completed a questionnaire on the perceived importance of 29 reasons to resist the temptation for extramarital sex. Participants also reported the likelihood that they would engage in extramarital sex if the opportunity presented itself. Results show that being female, more religious, and married for less time were associated with greater expectations of refraining from extramarital sex when presented with a hypothetical scenario. Multiple hierarchical regression showed that among factors relevant to conscious decision making, moral standards and fundamental anxieties (fear of remaining alone) predict expectations of refraining from extramarital sex better than concerns about effects on the children or the other participant.

Concepts: Scientific method, Marriage, Sex, Empiricism, Theory, Human sexuality, Fornication, Adultery


HIV screening has existed in numerous methods as an important part of HIV prevention efforts over the years. Premarital HIV testing for couples who wish to marry has been implemented in a number of regions, which often operate in a mandatory rather than voluntary basis and is considered a contentious issue, with viewpoints held in favour and against. One such region is Malaysia which has a policy of mandatory premarital HIV testing of prospective Muslim married couples. The purpose of this study is to understand stakeholders' views on premarital HIV testing given the Malaysian Islamic context.

Concepts: Marriage, Fornication


In recent decades, premarital sex, extramarital sex, and homosexuality have become increasingly visible in China, leading scholars to claim that a national “sex revolution” is under way. However, China’s internal sociocultural diversity calls this nation-level generalization into question. How do sex ideologies vary across China’s distinct provinces? To what extent are interprovince variations in sex ideologies associated with distinct macrolevel social factors in China? In this research, data from the 2010 China General Social Survey and the 2011 Chinese Statistics Yearbook were analyzed using multilevel models to test four contending theories of interprovince differences in sex ideologies in China: modernization, Westernization, deindustrialization, and the “rice theory.” The modernization theory was unsupported by the results, as socioeconomic development is not significantly associated with sex ideologies. Higher levels of deindustrialization and Westernization were associated with less traditional sex ideologies, but the strength of association varied across the domains of premarital sex, extramarital sex, and homosexuality. The rice theory was consistently supported, as the distinction between rice and wheat agriculture explained up to 30% of the province-level variance in sex ideologies. The findings underline the roles of both long-standing geographic differences and recent social changes in shaping China’s ideational landscape of sex.

Concepts: Scientific method, Marriage, Sociology, Theory, Sociocultural evolution, Fornication, Adultery, Extramarital sex


This study examines under-18 marriage in urban Tanzania from an ethnographic perspective. Due to poverty and high unemployment, some girls aspire to early marriage. Two pathways to early marriage are identified: first, poverty and gendered economic disparities motivate girls to begin transactional sexual activity at an early age, leading parents to favour early marriage as a risk-reduction measure. Second, educational opportunities are often closed off to girls before marriage, as a result of which early marriage becomes the only culturally approved pathway that allows girls to present themselves to others as a self-sufficient agent. These pathways are reinforced by cultural and religious concepts surrounding the transition from childhood to adulthood. The study finds that, in urban Tanzania, two important factors associated with early marriage are the prevalence of premarital sex leading to out-of-wedlock pregnancies, and the relatively high cost of secondary schooling, which blocks educational opportunities for girls after the age of 15.

Concepts: Marriage, Sexual intercourse, Culture, High school, Human sexual behavior, Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, Fornication


Recent research has shown that men’s wages rise more rapidly than expected prior to marriage, but interpretations diverge on whether this indicates selection or a causal effect of anticipating marriage. We seek to adjudicate this debate by bringing together literatures on (1) the male marriage wage premium; (2) selection into marriage based on men’s economic circumstances; and (3) the transition to adulthood, during which both union formation and unusually rapid improvements in work outcomes often occur. Using data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth 1979, we evaluate these perspectives. We show that wage declines predate rather than follow divorce, indicating no evidence that staying married benefits men’s wages. We find that older grooms experience no unusual wage patterns at marriage, suggesting that the observed marriage premium may simply reflect co-occurrence with the transition to adulthood for younger grooms. We show that men entering shotgun marriages experience similar premarital wage gains as other grooms, casting doubt on the claim that anticipation of marriage drives wage increases. We conclude that the observed wage patterns are most consistent with men marrying when their wages are already rising more rapidly than expected and divorcing when their wages are already falling, with no additional causal effect of marriage on wages.

Concepts: Marriage, Longitudinal study, Causality, Monogamy, Divorce, Alimony, Annulment, Fornication


Previous studies have found associations between the individual discrepancy of desired sexual frequency and actual sexual frequency and relational outcomes among premarital couples. The present study extended this research by using a sample of 1,054 married couples to explore how actor and partner individual sexual desire discrepancy (SDD) scores were associated with relationship satisfaction, stability, communication, and conflict during marriage. All participants took an online survey which assessed both couple sexual dynamics and relationship outcomes. Findings suggested that higher actor individual SDD was generally associated with negative relational outcomes, including lower reported relationship satisfaction, stability, and more reported couple conflict. These effects were found after controlling for background factors, baseline sexual frequency and desire, and couple desire discrepancies. Some partner effects were also found and were generally in the same direction. Marital length did not moderate the effects found although gender moderated associations between individual SDD and reported couple communication. Negative associations between individual SDD and communication were particularly strong when the husband reported high discrepancies between desired and actual sexual frequency. Results suggested that higher individual sexual desire discrepancies among married individuals may undermine relationship well-being. Applications of these findings to a clinical setting are also discussed.

Concepts: Marriage, Sexual intercourse, Same-sex marriage, Husband, Family therapy, Wife, Relationship counseling, Fornication


Responding to a call for research on pornography and women’s sexuality made by Weinberg, Williams, Kleiner, and Irizarry (2010), this study assessed pornography consumption, predictors, and correlates using nationally representative data gathered from U.S. women between 1973 and 2010 (N = 18,225). Women who were younger, less religious, and non-White were more likely to consume pornography. Women who consumed pornography had more positive attitudes toward extramarital sex, adult premarital sex, and teenage sex. Women who consumed pornography also had more sexual partners in the prior year, prior 5 years, and were more likely to have engaged in extramarital sex and paid sex. Consistent with Wright’s (2011a) acquisition, activation, application model of mass media sexual socialization and the theorizing of Linz and Malamuth (1993), liberal-conservative ideology moderated the association between pornography exposure and sexual behavior. Specifically, the positive association between pornography exposure and women’s recent sexual behavior was strongest for the most liberal women and weakest for the most conservative women. Cultural commentators and some academics argue that technological advances have resulted in a steady increase in the percentage of individuals who consume pornography. Little support was found for this assertion among U.S. women.

Concepts: Marriage, Sexual intercourse, United States, Human sexual behavior, Human sexuality, Fornication, Adultery, Extramarital sex


Although both storied and extensive, social scientific research on the effects of pornography consumption on males has primarily focused on testing the feminist contention that pornography contributes to sexual aggression against females. Other parties have expressed concern about males' use of pornography, however. “Moralists” (Linz & Malamuth, 1993 ) have argued that pornography promotes a permissive approach to sexual relations. Public health researchers have hypothesized that pornography encourages epidemiologically risky sexual behavior. This study used cross-sectional General Social Survey data gathered between 1973 and 2010 to assess these claims for empirical support. In line with moralists' contentions, pornography consumption was associated with having more positive attitudes toward teenage sex, adult premarital sex, and extramarital sex. Pornography consumption was also positively related to actually engaging in extramarital sex. In line with public health researchers' concerns, pornography consumption was associated with having more sexual partners and engaging in paid sex behavior. Additional longitudinal and experimental research is needed to determine the directionality of these associations and to rule out possible third-variable confounds, such as erotophilia or hypersexuality. Regarding consumption, the percentage of adult U.S. males who consume pornography appears to have increased only slightly over time.

Concepts: Scientific method, Sexual intercourse, Science, Research, Sex, Human sexual behavior, Human sexuality, Fornication


Summary Although attitudes to premarital sex may be influenced by several factors, the importance of religion to that discourse cannot be underestimated. By providing standards to judge and guide behaviour, religion provides a social control function such that religious persons are expected to act in ways that conform to certain norms. This study investigated the interconnectedness of several dimensions of religion and premarital sexual attitudes among young people in the informal settlements of Nairobi, Kenya. Using reference group as the theoretical base, it was found that those affiliated with Pentecostal/Evangelical faiths had more conservative attitudes towards premarital sex than those of other Christian faiths. Additionally, while a high level of religiosity was found to associate with more conservative views on premarital sex, the effect was more pronounced among Pentecostal groups. The findings are discussed in relation to programmes on adolescent sexuality.

Concepts: Marriage, Sexual intercourse, Faith, Sociology, Human sexuality, Religion, Anomie, Fornication