Study: Internet users in red states are more likely to search for porn

Areas that report the highest religiosity tend to be full of people seeking out the "forbidden fruit" online

Published October 14, 2014 3:32PM (EDT)

       (<a href=''>andrearoad</a> via <a href=''>iStock</a>)
(andrearoad via iStock)

If repeated sex scandals weren't enough to make this news unsurprising, you're in for a treat: According to a study published in the Archives of Sexual Behavior, people in states with the greatest show of political conservatism and religiosity tend to be more likely to search the Internet for sexually explicit content. In other words, the redder the state, the dirtier the Googling.

"In America, religiosity and conservatism are generally associated with opposition to non-traditional sexual behavior, but prominent political scandals and recent research suggest a paradoxical private attraction to sexual content on the political and religious right," study co-authors Cara C. MacInnis and Gordon Hodson write. "We examined associations between state-level religiosity/conservatism and anonymized interest in searching for sexual content online using Google Trends (which calculates within-state search volumes for search terms)."

MacInnis and Hodson found "moderate-to-large" positive associations between the proportion of states' religiosity, measured by a 2011 Gallup poll that asked residents to define how religious they consider themselves, and general online searches for pornographic content. The researchers also found a similar association between states' political conservatism and searches specifically for sexual images, implying that conservative social views -- particularly restrictions on sexual activity -- could lead to higher proportions of private "prurient" Internet scouring.

Another related explanation, however, is that liberals are actually dominating the searches in more conservative states. But regardless of who is looking at all this porn MacInnis and Hodson suggest that the same motivation explains the higher proportions in red states. “In heavily religious states, abstinence is often pushed as the only safe sex, with very little to offer in the way of sexual education," the researchers write. "Unfortunately, that leaves a growing number of people with questions about sex but no answers."

And so presumably they go where anyone would go for information: the Internet.

(h/t Raw Story)

By Jenny Kutner

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