Transgression as addiction: religiosity and moral disapproval as predictors of perceived addiction to pornography

Arch Sex Behav. 2015 Jan;44(1):125-36. doi: 10.1007/s10508-013-0257-z. Epub 2014 Feb 12.


Perceived addiction to Internet pornography is increasingly a focus of empirical attention. The present study examined the role that religious belief and moral disapproval of pornography use play in the experience of perceived addiction to Internet pornography. Results from two studies in undergraduate samples (Study 1, N = 331; Study 2, N = 97) indicated that there was a robust positive relationship between religiosity and perceived addiction to pornography and that this relationship was mediated by moral disapproval of pornography use. These results persisted even when actual use of pornography was controlled. Furthermore, although religiosity was negatively predictive of acknowledging any pornography use, among pornography users, religiosity was unrelated to actual levels of use. A structural equation model from a web-based sample of adults (Study 3, N = 208) revealed similar results. Specifically, religiosity was robustly predictive of perceived addiction, even when relevant covariates (e.g., trait self-control, socially desirable responding, neuroticism, use of pornography) were held constant. In sum, the present study indicated that religiosity and moral disapproval of pornography use were robust predictors of perceived addiction to Internet pornography while being unrelated to actual levels of use among pornography consumers.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Behavior, Addictive / ethnology
  • Behavior, Addictive / psychology*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Data Collection
  • Erotica / psychology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Internet
  • Male
  • Morals*
  • Religion*
  • Students / psychology*
  • United States
  • Universities
  • Young Adult