(RNS) With their "True Love Waits" jewelry, conferences and T-shirts, Christians may be the face of the abstinence movement, but Muslims and Hindus are more likely to abstain from premarital sex.

That's the conclusion of a new study in the American Sociological Review, which also found that Muslims and Hindus -- at least in the developing world -- are more likely than Christians and Jews to refrain from extramarital sex.

"All major world religions discourage sex outside of marriage, but they are not all equally effective in shaping behavior," said Amy Adamczyk of the John Jay College of Criminal Justice, who co-authored the study with John Jay doctoral student Brittany E. Hayes.

Drawing on the Demographic and Health Surveys funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development, the study included data from 31 developing nations collected between 2000 and 2008. The authors focused on individuals' responses to questions on religious affiliation, marital status, and sexual behavior outside of marriage.

Adamczyk said the study evolved from another study she was doing that found countries with large Muslim populations have very low rates of HIV and AIDS. "I was trying to figure out why that would be," she said. One reason she considered was lower rates of sex outside of marriage.

The authors hypothesized that the larger the proportion of Muslims and Hindus in a country, the lower the rates of premarital and extramarital sex.

Adamczyk and Hayes found that 94 percent of Jews in the nations they studied reported having premarital sex, compared to 79 percent of Christians, 65 percent of Buddhists, 43 percent of Muslims and 19 percent of Hindus.

As for extramarital sex, 4 percent of Jews reported having sex outside of marriage, compared to 3 percent of Christians. Less than one percent each of Muslims, Hindus and Buddhists reported having extramarital sex.

"In many countries around the world -- but in Muslim countries specifically, there's just much less interaction between the sexes," said Adamczyk. "It's just going to be much less likely that they're going to meet a potentially romantic partner."

The Rev. Paul Sullins, a sociologist at the Catholic University of America, said the study's findings are not surprising, because much of the data comes from conservative Islamic nations.

"The burqa really works," Sullins said. "When you cover your women head to toe with cloth to keep them from being viewed by men outside their family, and you keep them strictly segregated from men throughout their growing years until they get married, you're going to have less premarital sex."

Suzy Ismail, a marriage and divorce counselor and the author of several books on Muslim marriage, said low rates of premarital and extramarital sex among Muslims are rooted in the religion.

"For Muslims, any form of zinna (fornication or adultery) or anything that leads to zinna is religiously prohibited," Ismail said. "In consistently reminding others and oneself of the importance of modest dress, modest actions, and modest interactions, Muslims tend to inculcate the concepts of sexual morals from a young age."

Click through the slideshow to see most and least Christian states in the United States:

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  • Utah

    78,438 Christian adherents per 100,000 people. <br> Credit: Wikimedia Commons. Original photo <a href="http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/1/1a/Parowan_Utah_Church.jpg" target="_hplink">here</a>.

  • North Dakota

    66,950 Christian adherents per 100,000 people. <br> Credit: Wikimedia Commons. Original photo <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Catholic_Church_in_Warsaw,_North_Dakota.jpg" target="_hplink">here</a>.

  • Alabama

    62,467 Christian adherents per 100,000 people. Credit: Wikimedia Commons. Original photo <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:16th_Street_Baptist_Church.JPG" target="_hplink">here</a>.

  • Louisiana

    59,598 Christian adherents per 100,000 people. <br> Credit: Wikimedia Commons. Original photo <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:St._Stephens_Episcopal_Church_(Innis,_Louisiana).jpg" target="_hplink">here</a>.

  • Oklahoma

    58,598 Christian adherents per 100,000 people. <br> Credit: Wikimedia Commons. Original photo <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Catesby_Oklahoma_Church.jpg" target="_hplink">here</a>.

  • Mississippi

    58,342 Christian adherents per 100,000 people. <br> Credit: Wikimedia Commons. Original photo <a href="http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Mississippi_Church.jpg" target="_hplink">here</a>.

  • South Dakota

    58,212 Christian adherents per 100,000 people. <br> Credit: Wikimedia Commons. Original photo <a href="http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Methodist_Episcopal_Church_Pierre_South_Dakota.JPG" target="_hplink">here</a>.

  • Minnesota

    55,280 Christian adherents per 100,000 people. <br> Credit: Wikimedia Commons. Original photo <a href="http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Church_near_Flom,_Minnesota.jpg" target="_hplink">here</a>.

  • Massachusetts

    55,023 Christian adherents per 100,000 people. Credit: Wikimedia Commons. Original photo <a href="http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Sandwich_Church,_Massachusetts.jpg" target="_hplink">here</a>.

  • Arkansas

    54,985 Christian adherents per 100,000 people. Credit: Wikimedia Commons. Original photo <a href="http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Our_Lady_of_Perpetual_Help_Church_silhouette_altus_arkansas.jpg" target="_hplink">here</a>.

  • Nebraska

    54,776 Christian adherents per 100,000 persons. Credit: Wikimedia Commons. Original photo <a href="http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/b/b5/Visitation_Church_%28O'Connor%2C_Nebraska%29_church_from_S.JPG" target="_hplink">here</a>.

  • Tennessee

    54,764 Christian adherents per 100,000 persons. Credit: Wikimedia Commons. Original photo <a href="http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/1/1e/First_Baptist_Church_Donelson_Tennessee_04032012.JPG" target="_hplink">here</a>.

  • Rhode Island

    53,576 Christian adherents per 100,000 persons.

  • Texas

    53,525 Christian adherents per 100,000 persons.

  • Iowa

    53,403 Christian adherents per 100,000 persons.

  • Wisconsin

    52,863 Christian adherents per 100,000 persons.

  • Pennsylvania

    51,883 Christian adherents per 100,000 persons.

  • Illinois

    51,442 Christian adherents per 100,000 persons.

  • South Carolina

    51,374 Christian adherents per 100,000 persons.

  • Kentucky

    51,055 Christian adherents per 100,000 persons.

  • Idaho

    50,695 Christian adherents per 100,000 persons.

  • District of Columbia

    49,903 Christian adherents per 100,000 persons.

  • Kansas

    49,666 Christian adherents per 100,000 persons.

  • New Jersey

    49,575 Christian adherents per 100,000 persons.

  • Georgia

    49,374 Christian adherents per 100,000 persons. <br> Credit: Wikimedia Commons. Original photo <a href="http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Washington_(Georgia)_Presbyterian_Church.JPG" target="_hplink">here</a>.

  • Connecticut

    49,096 Christian adherents per 100,000 persons.

  • New Mexico

    49,044 Christian adherents per 100,000 persons.

  • Missouri

    48,436 Christian adherents per 100,000 persons.

  • North Carolina

    46,737 Christian adherents per 100,000 persons. Credit: Wikimedia Commons. Original photo <a href="http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Carolina_Baptist_Church.jpg" target="_hplink">here</a>.

  • New York

    44,488 Christian adherents per 100,000 persons. <br> Credit: Wikimedia Commons. Original photo <a href="http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Church_in_Rye,_New_York.jpg" target="_hplink">here</a>.

  • Indiana

    43,788 Christian adherents per 100,000 persons.

  • Ohio

    42,744 Christian adherents per 100,000 persons.

  • California

    42,430 Christian adherents per 100,000 persons.

  • Virginia

    41,304 Christian adherents per 100,000 persons.

  • Michigan

    40,186 Christian adherents per 100,000 persons.

  • Delaware

    39,575 Christian adherents per 100,000 persons. Credit: Wikimedia Commons. Original photo <a href="http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Christ_Church,_Dover,_Delaware.JPG" target="_hplink">here</a>.

  • Wyoming

    39,341 Christian adherents per 100,000 persons.

  • Maryland

    39,214 Christian adherents per 100,000 persons.

  • Montana

    37,824 Christian adherents per 100,000 persons.

  • Florida

    37,104 Christian adherents per 100,000 persons.

  • Colorado

    36,461 Christian adherents per 100,000 persons.

  • Hawaii

    36,103 Christian adherents per 100,000 persons.

  • Arizona

    35,842 Christian adherents per 100,000 persons.

  • West Virginia

    35,211 Christian adherents per 100,000 persons.

  • New Hampshire

    34,617 Christian adherents per 100,000 persons.

  • Nevada

    33,395 Christian adherents per 100,000 persons. Credit: Wikimedia Commons. Original photo <a href="http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/f/f2/StJoanofArcCatholicChurch_in_Las_Vegas_founded_1910.jpg" target="_hplink">here</a>.

  • Washington

    33,065 Christian adherents per 100,000 persons. Credit: Wikimedia Commons. Original photo <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Methodist_Church_at_Historic_Washington_State_Park_IMG_1467.JPG" target="_hplink">here</a>.

  • Vermont

    32,954 Christian adherents per 100,000 persons.

  • Alaska

    32,810 Christian adherents per 100,000 persons. Credit: Wikimedia Commons. Original photo <a href="http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/1/17/Orthodox_church_in_Seldovia%2C_Alaska.jpg" target="_hplink">here</a>.

  • Oregon

    30,101 Christian adherents per 100,000 persons.

  • Maine

    27,098 Christian adherents per 100,000 persons.

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