Masculinity and Problematic Pornography Viewing: The Moderating Role of Self-Esteem


Borgogna, Nicholas C.; McDermott, Ryon C.; Berry, April T.; and Browning, Brandon R.


2020 in Psychology of Men & Masculinities Volume 21(1), 81–94

  • The findings of this study suggest that problematic pornography use is associated with conformity to socially constructed masculine norms (such as power over women), and is exacerbated by low self-esteem.
Problematic pornography viewing is receiving increased attention as a men’s issue. However, few studies have examined how culturally constructed masculine role norms relate to pornography problems and how individual differences may moderate these associations. Men (N 520) were recruited online to participate in a survey examining how conformity to masculine role norms was associated with problematic pornography viewing dimensions and how self-esteem moderates these associations. Controlling for pornography viewing frequency,... READ FULL ABSTRACT
  • "Thus, power over women beliefs and behaviors may have unique associations with the problems associated with pornography. This is consistent with previous studies that indicate power over women as the most consistent (and strongest) correlate of men’s old-fashioned and modern sexism, as well as recent research indicating men’s traditionally masculine dominance ideologies as being related to problems with pornography viewing. One possibility is that men who seek power and control over the women in their lives may be especially drawn to pornography because it allows them to vicariously dominate women. As a consequence, and possibly due to the addictive characteristics of pornography viewing in general, these men may develop physical, emotional, and relational problems associated with their pornography viewing habits."
  • "Past research has demonstrated men who perceive a threat to their masculinity tend to overperform masculine behaviors; thus, men with low self-esteem may have a masculinity-contingent sense of self-worth... In turn, these insecure men may be particularly attracted to pornography, not only for sexual gratification but also as a way of proving their masculinity. By contrast, men who have more positive self-views may not have the same insecure needs to view pornography. It is possible that men with high levels of self-esteem do not place as much weight on masculinity with respect to their self-worth, and thus, their masculine role norm conformity may not be related to certain pornography viewing problems."
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