Affection Substitution: The Effect of Pornography Consumption On Close Relationships


Hesse, Colin; and Floyd, Kory


2019 in Journal of Social and Personal Relationships

  • This study suggests that while many use pornography as a coping mechanism for affection deprivation, pornography consumption may be a maladaptive coping strategy as it relates to depression.
Scholars have stated that humans have a fundamental need to belong, but less is known about whether individuals can use other resources to substitute for close relationships. In this study, 357 adults reported their level of affection deprivation, their weekly pornography consumption, their goals for using pornography (including life satisfaction and loneliness reduction), and indicators of their individual and relational wellness. We hypothesized that individuals might consume pornography as a coping mechanism (either adaptive... READ FULL ABSTRACT
  • "These findings indicate that when people feel deficient in the amount of affection they receive, they are more likely to consume pornography for the specific purposes of reducing their loneliness, creating parasocial relationships with the characters depicted in pornography, and creating mental escape from their situation."
  • "Although people are more likely to use pornography to reduce loneliness, find escape, and form parasocial relationships when they feel affection deprived than when they do not, those findings should not be taken as prescriptive, because such a strategy is not necessarily adaptive. Indeed, the varied findings in H6 caution us to further examine the adaptive nature of pornography consumption, with three tests showing no adaptive element and the fourth showing a possible maladaptive element. Previous research on pornography consumption also shows varied results on individual outcomes, with negative effects such as emotional problems (Philaretou et al., 2005) and positive effects such as stress relief (Hald & Malamuth, 2007). Future research should continue to examine how pornography consumption could function in both positive and negative adaptive ways as a function of affection substitution."
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