Till Porn Do Us Part? A Longitudinal Examination of Pornography Use and Divorce

J Sex Res. 2018 Mar-Apr;55(3):284-296. doi: 10.1080/00224499.2017.1317709. Epub 2017 May 12.


As pornography use becomes more commonplace in the United States, and increasingly so among younger cohorts, a growing literature is considering its potential connection to key social and cultural institutions. The current study examined the relationship between pornography use and one such institution: marriage. We drew on three-wave longitudinal data from 2006 to 2014 General Social Survey panel studies to determine whether married Americans' pornography use predicted their likelihood of divorce over time and under what social conditions. We employed a doubly robust strategy that combines entropy balancing with logistic regression models. We found that the probability of divorce roughly doubled for married Americans who began pornography use between survey waves (N = 2,120; odds ratio = 2.19), and that this relationship held for both women and men. Conversely, discontinuing pornography use between survey waves was associated with a lower probability of divorce, but only for women. Additional analyses also showed that the association between beginning pornography use and the probability of divorce was particularly strong among younger Americans, those who were less religious, and those who reported greater initial marital happiness. We conclude by discussing data limitations, considering potential intervening mechanisms and the possibility of reverse causation, and outlining implications for future research.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Divorce*
  • Erotica*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Regression Analysis
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • United States