Archives of Sexual Behavior

, Volume 46, Issue 2, pp 585–602 | Cite as

Perceived Effects of Pornography on the Couple Relationship: Initial Findings of Open-Ended, Participant-Informed, “Bottom-Up” Research

  • Taylor KohutEmail author
  • William A. Fisher
  • Lorne Campbell
Original Paper


The current study adopted a participant-informed, “bottom-up,” qualitative approach to identifying perceived effects of pornography on the couple relationship. A large sample (N = 430) of men and women in heterosexual relationships in which pornography was used by at least one partner was recruited through online (e.g., Facebook, Twitter, etc.) and offline (e.g., newspapers, radio, etc.) sources. Participants responded to open-ended questions regarding perceived consequences of pornography use for each couple member and for their relationship in the context of an online survey. In the current sample of respondents, “no negative effects” was the most commonly reported impact of pornography use. Among remaining responses, positive perceived effects of pornography use on couple members and their relationship (e.g., improved sexual communication, more sexual experimentation, enhanced sexual comfort) were reported frequently; negative perceived effects of pornography (e.g., unrealistic expectations, decreased sexual interest in partner, increased insecurity) were also reported, albeit with considerably less frequency. The results of this work suggest new research directions that require more systematic attention.


Pornography Sexually explicit material Relationships Sexual satisfaction Relationship satisfaction Relationship quality 



We would like to thank Nellie Kamkar for her help with the online survey construction as well as Alexa Momy, Ali Pensamiento, Chad Buckland, Michelle Camilleri, Natalie Thoman, and Terra Duchene who aided with the qualitative data coding. This research was funded by a Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council Insight Grant awarded to Dr. W. Fisher (PI) and Dr. L Campbell (Co-PI), reference number: 435-2013-1077.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Taylor Kohut
    • 1
    Email author
  • William A. Fisher
    • 1
    • 2
  • Lorne Campbell
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyThe University of Western OntarioLondonCanada
  2. 2.Department of Obstetrics and GynaecologyThe University of Western OntarioLondonCanada

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