Very religious people are more likely to consider themselves addicted to pornography – even after viewing Internet porn just once.
Researchers at Case Western Reserve University examined the link between perceptions of addiction to online pornography and religious beliefs in a study that was published Wednesday in the journal Archives of Sexual Behavior.
“We were surprised that the amount of viewing did not impact the perception of addiction, but strong moral beliefs did,” said Joshua Grubbs, a doctoral student and lead author of the study.
Grubbs, who said he attended a conservative university as an undergraduate, became interested in the topic after seeing fellow students in distress because they thought something was terribly wrong with them after viewing pornographic images or videos online.
He also found that about half of the more than 1,200 books about pornography addiction listed on Amazon.com were listed under religious or spirituality sections – including many personal testimonials about the perceived addiction.
Researchers at New Mexico Solutions, a behavioral health program in Albuquerque, said no evidence connected pornography use to erectile dysfunction or changes in the brain.
Their study, published in Current Sexual Health Reports, noted that pornography addiction was not included in the recently revised Diagnostic and Statistical Manual because scientific data could not support the addiction’s existence.
In fact, the study showed, most studies on the topic lacked proper methodological rigor.
Grubbs conducted three studies that surveyed strength of faith, religious practices and online viewing habits, and respondents also completed a survey to measure their perception of addiction.
Two of the studies involved a general student population made up of men and women, with an average age of 19, from non-secular and religious schools, and a third study focused on an online adult population with an average age of 32.
About half the respondents reported being Christian or Catholic, heterosexual and Caucasian, while a third reported no religious affiliation.
Men tended to report greater moral disapproval than women for viewing online pornography, the researchers said.
About 25 percent viewed porn one to three times in six months, 13 percent had four to six times, 8 percent had seven to nine times, and the rest had viewed porn 10 or more times in six months.
The findings revealed no connection between the hours spent viewing porn and a person’s religious faith.
The other study, conducted in New Mexico by a team led by David Ley, found childhood exposure to pornography explained little variance in adolescent behavior, which researchers said were better explained by individual and family variables.
Instead, the researchers said the positive benefits of viewing porn – providing a legal outlet for illegal sexual behaviors and an associated decrease in sex crimes, including child molestation – improved attitudes toward sexuality and increased the quality of life and pleasure in long-term relationships.
Their study found more people reporting a porn addiction were men with a non-heterosexual orientation and a high libido.
Their findings also lined up with Grubbs’ study, finding that these men tend to have religious values that conflict with their sexual behavior and desires.
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