Sexual morality : factor structure, individual differences, and cross-cultural variation

Asao, Kelly Eiko
Journal Title
Journal ISSN
Volume Title

Across every society there exist moral rules governing the sexual domain. Nonetheless, extant theories have largely ignored the domain of human conduct most heavily and universally moralized—sexual conduct. Across numerous studies, I investigate people’s intuitions about sexual morality, including individual and cross-cultural variation. The goals of the research program were threefold. First, this research created a comprehensive taxonomy of sexual moral behavior—the Sexual Morality Inventory. Factor analysis revealed distinct factors that we named the Seven Pillars of Sexual Morality. A second goal was to determine if variation in sexual morality could be predicted based on other key individual difference variables. Across two studies, I found that gender, religiosity, mating strategy, and personality predict individual differences in people’s moral codes of sexual conduct. Finally, in collaboration with researchers in 37 countries, I discovered which sexual acts are universally moralized (e.g., sexual coercion) and which vary from culture to culture (e.g., short-term sex). Collectively, this program of research is the first to comprehensively study sexual morality and contributes significantly to our understanding of morality and sexuality.