No Harm in Looking, Right? Men’s Pornography Consumption, Body Image, and Well-Being


Tylka, Tracy L.


2015 in Psychology of Men & Masculinity, Vol. 16(1), pp. 97-107.

  • Analyses revealed that men’s frequency of pornography use was positively linked to poor body image.
  • This study found that pornography use was associated with poorer romantic attachment in couple relationships.
Many scholars have recognized and studied the links between various sources of appearance-related pressure (e.g., media and interpersonal pressures to be mesomorphic) and men’s body image and well-being. Pornography is another medium of appearance related pressure that is very rarely considered in this research. The present study incorporated pornography use into 2 models of men’s body image and 1 model of men’s interpersonal and emotional well-being. College men (N 359) rated how often they viewed pornography and... READ FULL ABSTRACT
  • "Findings from the second model revealed that men’s pornography use is connected to another dimension of body image: body appreciation. Specifically, pornography use was inversely linked to body appreciation, both directly and indirectly through habitual body monitoring. This pattern of relationships indicates that men who view pornography are more likely to focus on how they look rather than what their body can do for them, and less likely to challenge cultural appearance ideals and engage in self care behaviors for their body. Therefore, pornography use may be associated with men being more open to engaging in deleterious body change strategies (e.g., fasting, cutting out certain food groups, anabolic steroid use, excessive bodybuilding, cosmetic surgery) to achieve the mesomorphic ideal rather than adaptive self-care strategies (e.g., moderate cardiovascular exercise and strength training, choosing nutritious foods) that emphasize the health and functioning of their body."
  • "Extending beyond body image, the present study revealed that men’s pornography use was positively associated with romantic attachment avoidance and anxiety. Theoretical assertions as well as preliminary findings from qualitative research suggest that pornography scripts present gender-typed and sexualized working models of self and others, which could shape how men position themselves within their actual romantic relationships. As a socialization agent, pornography use may be linked to men’s (a) romantic attachment avoidance by legitimizing and encouraging sex without intimacy and (b) romantic attachment anxiety by heightening anxiety surrounding partner commitment. That is, by showing fleeting sexual encounters and noncommittal relationships, pornography may validate men’s fears that their real-life partners will cheat on, reject, and/or abandon them."
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