Pornography Use and Marital Separation: Evidence from Two-Wave Panel Data

Abstract

As pornography use continues to increase in the U.S., studies have sought to understand its potential influence on marital relationships. Yet, the primary focus of such studies has been pornography’s association with marital quality, not stability. Consequently, we still know relatively little about whether pornography consumption at one time predicts marital disruption later on. Drawing on data from the 2006 and 2012 waves of the nationally representative Portraits of American Life Study (N = 445), this article examined whether married Americans who viewed pornography in 2006, either at all or in greater frequencies, were more likely to experience a marital separation by 2012. Binary logistic regression analyses showed that married Americans who viewed pornography at all in 2006 were more than twice as likely as those who did not view pornography to experience a separation by 2012, even after controlling for 2006 marital happiness and sexual satisfaction as well as relevant sociodemographic correlates. The relationship between pornography use frequency and marital separation, however, was technically curvilinear. The likelihood of marital separation by 2012 increased with 2006 pornography use to a point and then declined at the highest frequencies of pornography use. Ancillary analyses, however, showed that this group of married Americans with high frequencies of 2006 pornography viewing and low likelihood of later marital separation was not statistically distinguishable from either abstainers or moderate viewers in terms of marital separation likelihood. All findings held regardless of gender. Data limitations and implications for future research are discussed.

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Notes

  1. 1.

    Outside of attrition, the greatest source of missing data came from the dependent variable (nearly 24% missing), while all predictor variables were missing less than 4%. Imputing on the dependent variable did not substantively change the results. However, because imputing on the dependent variable can introduce unnecessary bias (Allison, 2009), the decision was made to use listwise deletion, which also makes replication more straightforward.

  2. 2.

    Using controls from the 2012 wave (results available upon request) did not substantively change any of the findings for this study.

  3. 3.

    Collinearity diagnostics were run for all models and no evidence of multicollinearity was found. Variance inflation factors (VIFs), which estimate how much variance of a coefficient is inflated because of linear dependence on other predictors, were all below 2.1. This is below the most conservative standards for collinearity (VIFs of 2.50 or higher) and well below the more common standard (VIFs of 5.0 or higher) (see Allison, 2012).

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Correspondence to Samuel L. Perry.

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Perry, S.L. Pornography Use and Marital Separation: Evidence from Two-Wave Panel Data. Arch Sex Behav 47, 1869–1880 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10508-017-1080-8

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Keywords

  • Pornography
  • Marriage
  • Separation
  • Divorce
  • Relationships