Faith and unfaithfulness: can praying for your partner reduce infidelity?

J Pers Soc Psychol. 2010 Oct;99(4):649-59. doi: 10.1037/a0019628.

Abstract

Because religion and/or spirituality is integral to the lives of a majority of the world population, we conducted 3 studies on the role of prayer in romantic relationships. Study 1 (N = 375) showed that prayer for the partner predicted lower levels of extradyadic romantic behavior over a 6-week period, over and beyond relationship satisfaction, and initial levels of extradyadic romantic behavior. In Study 2 (N = 83), we used an experimental design to show that participants assigned to pray for each day for 4 weeks engaged in lower levels of extradyadic romantic behavior during that time, compared with those who engaged in daily positive thoughts about the partner or a neutral activity. Perception of the relationship as sacred mediated the relation between experimentally manipulated prayer and later infidelity. Study 3 (N = 23) showed that objective observers rated participants who had been praying for their partner for 4 weeks as more committed to their romantic relationship than control participants. The implications of these results are then discussed. Because religion and/or spirituality is integral to the lives of a majority of the world population, we conducted 3 studies on the role of prayer in romantic relationships. Study 1 (N = 375) showed that prayer for the partner predicted lower levels of extradyadic romantic behavior over a 6-week period, over and beyond relationship satisfaction, and initial levels of extradyadic romantic behavior. In Study 2 (N = 83), we used an experimental design to show that participants assigned to pray for each day for 4 weeks engaged in lower levels of extradyadic romantic behavior during that time, compared with those who engaged in daily positive thoughts about the partner or a neutral activity. Perception of the relationship as sacred mediated the relation between experimentally manipulated prayer and later infidelity. Study 3 (N = 23) showed that objective observers rated participants who had been praying for their partner for 4 weeks as more committed to their romantic relationship than control participants. The implications of these results are then discussed.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Courtship / psychology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Religion and Psychology
  • Religion*
  • Sexual Behavior*
  • Southeastern United States