Internet Pornography Use, Perceived Addiction, and Religious/Spiritual Struggles

Abstract

Prior work has demonstrated that religious beliefs and moral attitudes are often related to sexual functioning. The present work sought to examine another possibility: Do sexual attitudes and behaviors have a relationship with religious and spiritual functioning? More specifically, do pornography use and perceived addiction to Internet pornography predict the experience of religious and spiritual struggle? It was expected that feelings of perceived addiction to Internet pornography would indeed predict such struggles, both cross-sectionally and over time, but that actual pornography use would not. To test these ideas, two studies were conducted using a sample of undergraduate students (N = 1519) and a sample of adult Internet users in the U.S. (N = 713). Cross-sectional analyses in both samples found that elements of perceived addiction were related to the experience of religious and spiritual struggle. Additionally, longitudinal analyses over a 1-year time span with a subset of undergraduates (N = 156) and a subset of adult web users (N = 366) revealed that perceived addiction to Internet pornography predicted unique variance in struggle over time, even when baseline levels of struggle and other related variables were held constant. Collectively, these findings identify perceived addiction to Internet pornography as a reliable predictor of religious and spiritual struggle.

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Notes

  1. 1.

    Given that only two participants identified with a gender of “other” and that prior work has linked male gender to pornography use (e.g., Grubbs et al., 2015a; Malamuth et al., 2012; Nelson et al., 2010; Wright, 2013b), only male gender was coded in analyses, with women and “other” being grouped together.

  2. 2.

    Although not specifically hypothesized, additional analyses examining potential moderating effects of levels of use and of gender were conducted. In both cases, no moderation was found. As such, moderation was not considered in subsequent analyses.

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Acknowledgments

We gratefully acknowledge the support of the John Templeton Foundation (Grant # 36094) in funding this project.

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Correspondence to Joshua B. Grubbs.

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Grubbs, J.B., Exline, J.J., Pargament, K.I. et al. Internet Pornography Use, Perceived Addiction, and Religious/Spiritual Struggles. Arch Sex Behav 46, 1733–1745 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10508-016-0772-9

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Keywords

  • Pornography
  • Hypersexual behavior
  • Religion
  • Spirituality
  • Addiction