Infidelity in romantic relationships is common and has been associated with relationship dissolution and strain on individuals. Most religions teach that infidelity is harmful, and some researchers have suggested that, in the aggregate, more religious people might be less likely to report infidelity. However, research has been mixed, with some studies finding that more religious people are less likely to report infidelity, other studies finding that more religious people are more likely to report infidelity, and other studies finding no relationship. To clarify seemingly contradictory findings, I conducted a meta-analysis of the infidelity-religiosity relationship with 38 studies and a total sample size of over 35,000. A random-effects analysis found a small, statistically significant, inverse relationship between religiosity and infidelity (r = -.07, 95% CI [-.12, -.03]). However, a large degree of heterogeneity (Q = 1878.75.52, p < 0.001; I2 = 96.86) existed in this analysis, suggesting that effect sizes varied greatly between studies. In planned grouped comparisons, the relationship between religiosity and physical infidelity was not significantly different from the relationship between religiosity and emotional infidelity. Attendance at religious services and other measures of religiosity had similar relationships with infidelity, and spirituality and religiosity were equally protective against infidelity. Meta-regressions found that sample characteristics, such as race and gender, did not have a statistically significant relationship with the religiosity-infidelity effect size (p > .05), while publication status predicted effect size (p < .05). Findings are discussed through the lens of cognitive dissonance theory and intrinsic religious theory.
College and Department
Family, Home, and Social Sciences; Psychology
BYU ScholarsArchive Citation
Maddock, Meghan, "Is There a Relationship Between Religiosity and Infidelity? A Meta-Analysis" (2022). Theses and Dissertations. 9669.
religiosity, spirituality, infidelity, relationships, meta-analysis