religiosity, relationships, sexual passion, sexual sanctification, sexual satisfaction


Religiosity can influence sexual satisfaction both positively and negatively. To test positive and negative mechanisms, we assessed how religiosity is indirectly associated with sexual satisfaction through sexual sanctification and inhibited sexual passion. We sampled individuals from Amazon’s Mechanical Turk (N 1,695, Study 1) and mixed-sex dyads from Bovitz Inc. (N 481 dyads, Study 2). Religiosity consistently had a positive indirect association with sexual satisfaction through sexual sanctification; little evidence suggested religiosity had an indirect association with sexual satisfaction through inhibited sexual passion. When accounting for these mechanisms simultaneously, however, religiosity consistently had a negative direct association with sexual satisfaction, supporting the possibility of religious dualities. In the couple study, men’s religiosity predicted their partner reporting higher sexual sanctification (for married couples), but women’s religiosity did not predict partner sexual sanctification. Altogether, these results paint a complex picture for how religiosity might influence sexuality. Understanding the nuance of these results may help people maximize the potential benefits of their belief systems in sexual relationships.

Original Publication Citation

Leonhardt, N. D., Busby, D. M., Hanna-Walker, V., & Leavitt, C. E. (2020) Sanctification or inhibition? Religious dualities and sexual satisfaction. Journal of Family Psychology.

Document Type

Peer-Reviewed Article

Publication Date


Permanent URL


Journal of Family Psychology




Family, Home, and Social Sciences


Family Life

University Standing at Time of Publication

Full Professor