Self-perceived Problematic Pornography Use: An Integrative Model from a Research Domain Criteria and Ecological Perspective

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Abstract

Although pornography can be a healthy expression of sexuality, some individuals report difficulty and distress regulating their pornography use. Self-perceived problematic pornography use (SPPPU) refers to one’s negative self-evaluation of their pornography use, which is inherently subjective. SPPPU has been associated with decreased psychological well-being and overall functioning. Given the subjective nature of ‘pornography addiction’ (i.e., SPPPU), the integration of different levels of analysis of this phenomenon are complicated. To address this issue, we propose an integrative model of SPPPU, using both the Research Domain Criteria and ecological lenses. We propose that SPPPU can produce change in the molecular, circuits, and behavioral levels, as well as in the interpersonal, community, and societal levels. As a social phenomenon, SPPPU is associated to societal structures, community norms, and interpersonal distress. This social phenomenon is also connected to biological changes, including excessive activation of reward systems, increase in dopamine, and sexual dysfunctions. The negative effects in the individual level amplify and maintain societal implications. Future studies should focus on prevention and treatment that can integrate different units of analysis and look at this phenomenon holistically.

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Correspondence to Catarina Durante Bergue Alves.

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Alves, C.D.B., Cavalhieri, K.E. Self-perceived Problematic Pornography Use: An Integrative Model from a Research Domain Criteria and Ecological Perspective. Sexuality & Culture 24, 1619–1640 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12119-019-09680-w

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Keywords

  • Self-perceived problematic pornography use
  • RDoC
  • Ecological systems
  • Integration