Summary: Friends' Religiosity Associated with
Delayed First sex of Religious and Secular Youth
Study found that friends' religiosity
is associated with delayed first sex of religious and secular youth.
Additionally, the strength of the relationship between friends'
religiosity and first sex depends on the extent to which an
adolescent's friends are friends with each other.
Past research has shown that individual
religiosity influences sexual behavior and that religious support
can increase consistency between personal religiosity and behavior.
Previous studies have also shown the importance of friends and peer
influences that come with one's position within the group of
friends. This particular study sought to examine the association
between friend's religiosity and first sex. Researchers used data
from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health (AddHealth)
and a sample size of 3,657 students. Researchers found that sexual
intercourse was less likely among adolescents who: feel close to
their parents, live in two-parent families, and report good grades.
Conversely, sex is more common among adolescents who have more
friends outside of their school, and who have parents or friends who
approve of premarital sex. In regards to friends' religiosity, the
effect of friends' private religiosity on delaying first sex was
significant and this effect was further enhanced in adolescents who
were embedded in dense social networks in which teens' friends were
friends with one another. This may be due to the fact that teens in
dense religious groups are aware that monitoring within the group is
high and that early sexual behaviors violate the group's religious
norms. Interestingly, friend's religiosity appeared to be a stronger
predictor of first sex than living in a two-parent family or being
close to one's parents. Finally, the study showed that the
relationship between friends' religiosity and sexual debut depends
less on how much time an adolescent spends with his/her friends or
how well liked he/she is by religious teens, and more on whether
his/her religious friends are friends with each other.1
Religiosity and First Sex, Social Science Research, 2006, pp.