The grey areas of Internet use : secret affairs in cyberspace and religiosity

Research output: Journal Publications and Reviews (RGC: 21, 22, 62)21_Publication in refereed journalpeer-review

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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-23
Number of pages23
Journal / PublicationInternet Research
Issue number1
Online published20 Sept 2021
Publication statusPublished - 18 Jan 2022


Purpose - The anonymity of the Internet supports an increasing number of deviant behaviors such as secret affairs. This paper aims to investigate whether religiosity has a negative relationship with the incidence of secret affairs in cyberspace and how it moderates the substitution effect between the use of online and off-line channels for such deviant behaviors. Design/methodology/approach - The authors constructed a cross-sectional county-level dataset containing data on US religious adherents' ratios and actual expenditures on a social website related to extramarital affairs. The data were analyzed by ordinary least squares and two-stage least squares regression models. Findings - In general, religiosity has a negative relationship with secret affairs in cyberspace. It also moderates the relationship between using online (secret affairs websites) and off-line (entertainment facilities) channels for extramarital affairs. The deterrent effect of religiosity is weakened in religious communities with diversified religious teachings/structures and stricter requirements. Originality/value - This work enriches the understanding of the role of religiosity in online deviant behaviors and provides essential insights for policymakers (e.g. in relation to spillover effects of social norms in cyberspace).

Research Area(s)

  • Deterrence, Grey areas of ICT, Moral communities, Online platforms, Religiosity, Secret affairs