Sexuality & Couples

Sophie Bergeron  Ph.D


Is it always problematic to use online pornography?

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Even if the effects of using Internet pornography use are still debated, it is a common sexual activity for an increasing number of individuals. Does pornography use a problematic sexual activity for everybody? A recent study, conducted by researchers from the SCOUP team, examined if different profiles of pornography use emerge. The profiles were created using three dimensions of a problematic pornography use: (1) compulsivity toward pornography, (2) intensity of efforts to access pornography, and (3) associated emotional distress. Our researchers also examined the associations between these obtained profiles and the pornography viewing time as well as various indicators of sexual well-being. To answer the research questions, a convenience sample of 830 adults was recruited to complete online questionnaires.

What did we find?

Results suggest the three following profiles: (1) the recreational profile, presenting low scores on the three dimensions of problematic pornography use and including 75% of the sample, (2) the highly distressed noncompulsive profile, reporting high scores on the emotional distress, and including 13% of the sample, and (3) the compulsive profile, reporting high scores on compulsivity and efforts to access pornography and including 12% of the sample. Only individuals in the compulsive profile report using pornography significantly more often than the individuals in the two other profiles. Individuals in the recreational profile do not report negative effects on their sexual well-being whereas individuals in the highly distressed noncompulsive profile and those in the compulsive profile report negative effects on many indicators of their sexual well-being.
These profiles highlight that pornography use is not problematic for most users, but that it can become problematic for one quarter of individuals while being associated with negative effects on sexual well-being.

For more details, we invite you to read the full paper:

Vaillancourt-Morel, M.-P., Blais-Lecours, S., Labadie, C., Bergeron, S., Sabourin, S., & Godbout, N. (2017). Profiles of cyberpornography use and sexual well-being in adults. The Journal of Sexual Medicine, 14, 78-85. doi: 10.1016/j.jsxm.2016.10.016

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