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Does Pornography Consumption Increase Participation in Friends with Benefits Relationships?

Abstract

Friends with benefits (FWB) relationships integrate two types of relationships—friendship and a relationship that includes sexual intimacy but without an expectation of commitment. These relationships are often seen as less risky than other casual sexual behaviors, but they still pose a high risk of contracting an STI. Pornography consumption has been connected to increases in risky sexual behavior in other types of casual sex. In two studies (Study 1 N = 850; Study 2 N = 992), we examined the hypothesis that pornography use influences FWB behaviors, specifically through the mechanism of sexual scripts. Our results demonstrate that more frequent viewing of pornography is associated with a higher incidence of FWB relationships, a higher number of unique FWB partners, and engagement in all types of risky sexual behaviors during FWB relationships. We did a direct replication of these effects in Study 2 with all point estimates falling within their respective confidence intervals. We also examined these effects while controlling for the stability of FWB behaviors over the course of a semester. Finally, we provided evidence that more permissive sexual scripts mediated the association between frequency of pornography use and FWB behaviors. We discuss our findings with an eye toward mitigating public health risks among emerging adults.

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Acknowledgments

This study was made possible by Grant No. 90FE0022/01 from the Department of Health And Human Services Administration for Children and Families awarded to Frank Fincham.

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Correspondence to Krista K. Dowdle.

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Braithwaite, S.R., Aaron, S.C., Dowdle, K.K. et al. Does Pornography Consumption Increase Participation in Friends with Benefits Relationships?. Sexuality & Culture 19, 513–532 (2015). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12119-015-9275-4

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s12119-015-9275-4

Keywords

  • Pornography
  • Friends with benefits
  • Sexual scripts
  • Emerging adults
  • Mediation