The impact of religious commitment on women’s sexual self-esteem




Abbott, Dena M.
Harris, Jeff E.
Mollen, Debra

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Religious commitment is associated with decreased sexual activity, poor sexual satisfaction, and sexual guilt, particularly among women. The purpose of this paper was to investigate how religious commitment is related to sexual self-esteem among women. Participants included 196 female undergraduate students, 87 % of whom identified as Christian. Participants completed the Sexual Self-Esteem Inventory for Women (SSEI-W), Religious Commitment Inventory-10, Revised Religious Fundamentalism Scale, Brief Sexual Attitudes Scale, and a measure of their perception of God’s view of sex. Results suggested that women with high religious commitment held more conservative sexual attitudes. Significant relationships between religious commitment and two subscales (moral judgment and attractiveness) of the SSEI-W revealed that women with high religious commitment were less likely to perceive sex as congruent with their moral values and simultaneously reported significantly greater confidence in their sexual attractiveness. A significant relationship between religious commitment and overall sexual self-esteem was found for women whose religion of origin was Catholicism, such that those with higher religious commitment reported lower sexual self-esteem. A hierarchical regression analysis revealed that high religious commitment and perception that God viewed sex negatively independently predicted lower sexual selfesteem, as related to moral judgment. Implications of the findings are provided.


This article was published with the assistance of the Texas Woman's University Libraries Open Access Fund.


Sexual self-esteem, Women's sexuality, Religion and sexuality, Psychology and sexuality


This is the publisher’s version of an article that is available at Recommended citation: Abbott, D. M., Harris, J. E., & Mollen, D. (2016). The impact of religious commitment on women’s sexual self-esteem. Sexuality & Culture, 20(4), 1063–1082. This item has been deposited in accordance with publisher copyright and licensing terms and with the author’s permission.