Trading Later Rewards for Current Pleasure: Pornography Consumption and Delay Discounting


Negash, Sesen; Sheppard, Nicole Van Ness; Lambert, Nathaniel M.; and Fincham, Frank D.


2016 in Journal of Sex Research, Vol. 53(6), pp. 689-700

  • Participants who abstained from pornography use demonstrated lower delay discounting than participants who abstained from their favorite food. The finding suggests that Internet pornography is a sexual reward that contributes to delay discounting differently than other natural rewards.
Internet pornography is a multi-billion-dollar industry that has grown increasingly accessible. Delay discounting involves devaluing larger, later rewards in favor of smaller, more immediate rewards. The constant novelty and primacy of sexual stimuli as particularly strong natural rewards make Internet pornography a unique activator of the brain's reward system, thereby having implications for decision-making processes. Based on theoretical studies of evolutionary psychology and neuroeconomics, two studies tested the hypothesis... READ FULL ABSTRACT
  • "The results of the current studies suggest an accumulation effect of regularly obtaining immediate reward through pornography, which predicted a higher rate of delay discounting over time. The longitudinal nature of both of the studies in this article indicates that the effects of pornography use on delay discounting can extend even beyond the temporary state of arousal. These results are also consistent with research indicating long-term effects of pornography use on the brain’s dopaminergic reward system"
Access Full Study Here