Do American States with more religious or conservative populations search more for sexual content on google?

Arch Sex Behav. 2015 Jan;44(1):137-47. doi: 10.1007/s10508-014-0361-8. Epub 2014 Oct 3.


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. 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). Across two separate years, and controlling for demographic variables, we 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. These findings were interpreted in terms of the paradoxical hypothesis that a greater preponderance of right-leaning ideologies is associated with greater preoccupation with sexual content in private internet activity. Alternative explanations (e.g., that opposition to non-traditional sex in right-leaning states leads liberals to rely on private internet sexual activity) are discussed, as are limitations to inference posed by aggregate data more generally.

MeSH terms

  • Erotica*
  • Humans
  • Internet / statistics & numerical data*
  • Politics*
  • Religion*
  • Search Engine / statistics & numerical data*
  • Sexual Behavior / statistics & numerical data*
  • United States / epidemiology