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Forbidden fruit: Red state Internet searchers more likely to hunt for porn, study finds

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Individuals in states with higher levels of religiosity and conservatism are more likely use the Internet to search for sexually explicit material, according to a study in the latest Archives of Sexual Behavior.

In “Do American States with More Religious or Conservative Populations Search More for Sexual Content on Google?,” Canadian psychologists Gordon Hodson and Cara MacInnis correlated state-wide levels of both religiosity and conservatism with Google trends. Religiosity was defined by answers to a 2011 Gallup poll in which residents were asked to define how religious they were, while conservatism was determined by self-identification.

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According to the study’s abstract, the psychologists “observed moderate-to-large positive associations between: (1) greater proportions of state-level religiosity and general web searching for sexual content and (2) greater proportions of state-level conservatism and image-specific searching for sex.”

While this means that “a greater preponderance of right-leaning ideologies is associated with greater preoccupation with sexual content in private Internet activity,” the correlation may not necessarily be prurient on the part of social conservatives.

“In heavily religious states, abstinence is often pushed as the only safe sex, with very little to offer in the way of sexual education. Unfortunately, that leaves a growing number of people with questions about sex but no answers,” the pair write, adding, “Enter Google.”

Curiosity is not the only possible explanation, as the researchers also write that the preponderance of searches in these states are liberal’s fault.

“It is possible that liberal citizens living in states higher in religiosity or conservatism search more for sexual content due to living in a more sexually-restricted environment.”

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However, they are adamant that “[a]t minimum, these internet-search data clearly demonstrate that those living in states with greater proportions of very religious or conservative citizenry nonetheless seek out and experience the forbidden fruit of sexuality in private settings.”


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