It's Kind of Shocking to Learn Which States Actually Watch the Most Porn

Apr 3, 2017 at 5:13 p.m. ET
Image: Getty Images

When you think about porn, you might associate it with a lot of things, whether it's a turn-on, an obstacle in your relationship or something you don't have strong feelings about either way. But one thing you probably don't associate with porn is religion, right? Well, a new study published in the Journal of Sex Research found that in the U.S., religious people are the ones who are likelier to be watching the most porn. Surprise, surprise!

The researchers examined the popularity of various porn-related search terms throughout all 50 states in the U.S. over the last six years. The results: In states where more people identified as religious or church-going, porn search rates were higher, and there were fewer porn searches in states where more people identified as non-religious.

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As for the "why" behind these findings, there are a lot of potential factors. Perhaps some who consider themselves religious use porn as a sexual outlet when casual sex isn't an option because of their beliefs or maybe when your faith means major behavioral restrictions, people crave that "forbidden fruit" even more. Or maybe they're just curious — most religions I'm aware of don't encourage sexual exploration, so they may not be getting those answers from their own life experiences.

"Our findings support theories that more salient, traditional religious influences in a state may influence residents — whether religious or not — toward more covert sexual experiences," the researchers wrote in the study abstract. They also noted that states where more people identified as politically conservative tended to have lower rates of porn searches — so don't conflate religion with conservative politics, at least when it comes to porn habits. Fascinating!

In any event, it seems that the people who you might least expect to watch and enjoy porn might be watching more than anyone. You can't judge a book by its cover — or a person by the church he or she attends.

More: Should teachers introduce pornography in the classroom?

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