Self-reported addiction to pornography in a nationally representative sample: The roles of use habits, religiousness, and moral incongruence

J Behav Addict. 2019 Mar 1;8(1):88-93. doi: 10.1556/2006.7.2018.134. Epub 2019 Jan 11.


Background and aims: Despite controversies regarding its existence as a legitimate mental health condition, self-reports of pornography addiction seem to occur regularly. In the United States, prior works using various sampling techniques, such as undergraduate samples and online convenience samples, have consistently demonstrated that some pornography users report feeling dysregulated or out of control in their use. Even so, there has been very little work in US nationally representative samples to examine self-reported pornography addiction.

Methods: This study sought to examine self-reported pornography addiction in a US nationally representative sample of adult Internet users (N = 2,075).

Results: The results indicated that most participants had viewed pornography within their lifetimes (n = 1,461), with just over half reporting some use in the past year (n = 1,056). Moreover, roughly 11% of men and 3% of women reported some agreement with the statement "I am addicted to pornography." Across all participants, such feelings were most strongly associated with male gender, younger age, greater religiousness, greater moral incongruence regarding pornography use, and greater use of pornography.

Discussion and conclusion: Collectively, these findings are consistent with prior works that have noted that self-reported pornography addiction is a complex phenomenon that is predicted by both objective behavior and subjective moral evaluations of that behavior.

Keywords: compulsive sexual behavior disorder; hypersexual disorder; moral incongruence; perceived addiction; pornography addiction; self-perception.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Behavior, Addictive / epidemiology*
  • Erotica*
  • Female
  • Habits*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Morals*
  • Paraphilic Disorders / epidemiology*
  • Religion and Psychology*
  • Self Concept*
  • Self Report
  • Sexual Behavior / statistics & numerical data*
  • United States / epidemiology

Grants and funding

Funding sources: This project was supported by institutional funding provided to JBG by Bowling Green State University as a part of his faculty startup funds. The sponsors had no role in the design and conduct of the study; collection, management, analysis, and interpretation of the data; preparation, review, or approval of the manuscript; and decision to submit the manuscript for publication.