Exploring Trajectories of Pornography Use Through Adolescence and Emerging Adulthood


Willoughby, Brian J.; Young-Petersen, Bonnie; and Leonhardt, Nathan D.


2018 in The Journal of Sex Research, Vol. 55(3), pp. 297–309

  • This study found evidence of common pornography patterns through both adolescence and young adulthood.
  • Young adults who viewed pornography consistently reported lower life satisfaction.
While the scholarly literature on pornography use is growing, much of this literature has examined pornography use as a static feature that does not change. Despite this trend, pornography use, like most sexual behaviors, is likely best viewed as a dynamic feature that may shift across the developmental life span. Using a sample of 908 adults from the United States, retrospective data on pornography use through adolescence and emerging adulthood were gathered to explore trajectories of pornography use across these developmental... READ FULL ABSTRACT
  • "Results from the present study have several important implications for the continued exploration of pornography research. First, concerning our primary research question, we found evidence of common pornography patterns through both adolescence and emerging adulthood. One of the most important contributions of the present study is evidence of common deviating usage patterns that may help future scholars and clinicians move away from the simple dichotomous designations of “pornography users” and “pornography nonusers.” For example, model results suggested that the abstainers from the current study did not only include those who had never encountered or used pornography. Instead, these abstainers showed an infrequent pattern of use, roughly indicating a 10% to 20% likelihood of use in a given year during adolescence and through emerging adulthood. In fact, the majority (82%) of the individuals in this class had viewed pornography at some point in their lives. However, it was the inconsistent engagement with pornography in any given year that distinguished these individuals from those in other classes."
  • "In contrast, the classes that indicated sustained and elevated usage of pornography that began early in adolescence generally reported higher current pornography use, less life satisfaction, and higher rates of dysfunctional pornography use."
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