Changes in religiosity after first intercourse in the transition to adulthood

Sara A. Vasilenko, Eva S. Lefkowitz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


Religiosity delays initiation of sexual behavior, but the association may be bidirectional, and individuals may become less religious after first intercourse. This study uses longitudinal data from college students to examine whether 2 aspects of religiosity change before and after first intercourse using multiphase growth curve models. Students' religiosity did not change in the 6 months preceding first intercourse, but on average they attended services less often and felt religion was less important in the 12 months after first intercourse. These findings suggest that sexual behavior can influence religious development in emerging adulthood, and underscore the importance of studying the impact of sexuality beyond the health outcomes typically studied, and of examining how life events influence religious development in adolescence and emerging adulthood.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)310-315
Number of pages6
JournalPsychology of Religion and Spirituality
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • Religiosity
  • Sexual behavior
  • Transition to adulthood

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Religious studies
  • Applied Psychology


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