This page of resources provides a listing of the main research papers and books we refer to in this website. The research papers are all published in peer-reviewed journals, making them reliable sources of information.
Papers are listed in alphabetical order by the lead author’s surname. We have included original abstracts or summaries of papers, as well as suggestions of how to obtain the whole paper.
If you want further help on getting access to research, please see our guide Accessing Research.
Ahn HM, Chung HJ and Kim SH. Altered Brain Reactivity to Game Cues After Gaming Experience in Cyberpsychology, Behavior and Social Networking, 2015 Aug; 18(8):474-9. doi: 10.1089/cyber.2015.0185.
Individuals who play Internet games excessively show elevated brain reactivity to game-related cues. This study attempted to test whether this elevated cue reactivity observed in game players is a result of repeated exposure to Internet games. Healthy young adults without a history of excessively playing Internet games were recruited, and they were instructed to play an online Internet game for 2 hours/day for five consecutive weekdays. Two control groups were used: the drama group, which viewed a fantasy TV drama, and the no-exposure group, which received no systematic exposure. All participants performed a cue reactivity task with game, drama, and neutral cues in the brain scanner, both before and after the exposure sessions. The game group showed an increased reactivity to game cues in the right ventrolateral prefrontal cortex (VLPFC). The degree of VLPFC activation increase was positively correlated with the self-reported increase in desire for the game. The drama group showed an increased cue reactivity in response to the presentation of drama cues in the caudate, posterior cingulate, and precuneus. The results indicate that exposure to either Internet games or TV dramas elevates the reactivity to visual cues associated with the particular exposure. The exact elevation patterns, however, appear to differ depending on the type of media experienced. How changes in each of the regions contribute to the progression to pathological craving warrants a future longitudinal study.
Baumeister RF and Tierney J. 2011 Willpower: Rediscovering the Greatest Human Strength Penguin Press. This book can be purchased here.
Beyens I, Vandenbosch L and Eggermont S Early Adolescent Boys’ Exposure to Internet Pornography Relationships to Pubertal Timing, Sensation Seeking, and Academic Performance in The Journal of Early Adolescence, November 2015 vol. 35 no. 8 1045-1068. (Health)
Research has demonstrated that adolescents regularly use Internet pornography. This two-wave panel study aimed to test an integrative model in early adolescent boys (Mage= 14.10; N = 325) that (a) explains their exposure to Internet pornography by looking at relationships with pubertal timing and sensation seeking, and (b) explores the potential consequence of their exposure to Internet pornography for their academic performance. An integrative path model indicated that pubertal timing and sensation seeking predicted the use of Internet pornography. Boys with an advanced pubertal stage and boys high in sensation seeking more frequently used Internet pornography. Moreover, an increased use of Internet pornography decreased boys’ academic performance 6 months later. The discussion focuses on the consequences of this integrative model for future research on Internet pornography.
Bridges AJ, Wosnitzer R, Scharrer E, Sun C, Liberman R Aggression and sexual behavior in best-selling pornography videos: a content analysis update in Violence Against Women. 2010 Oct;16 (10):1065-85. doi: 10.1177/1077801210382866. (Health)
This current study analyzes the content of popular pornographic videos, with the objectives of updating depictions of aggression, degradation, and sexual practices and comparing the study’s results to previous content analysis studies. Findings indicate high levels of aggression in pornography in both verbal and physical forms. Of the 304 scenes analyzed, 88.2% contained physical aggression, principally spanking, gagging, and slapping, while 48.7% of scenes contained verbal aggression, primarily name-calling. Perpetrators of aggression were usually male, whereas targets of aggression were overwhelmingly female. Targets most often showed pleasure or responded neutrally to the aggression.
Cheng S, Ma J and Missari S The effects of Internet use on adolescents’ first romantic and sexual relationships in Taiwan in International Sociology July 2014, vol. 29, no. 4, pp 324-347. doi: 10.1177/0268580914538084. (Health)
Internet use and digital networking are increasingly an integral part of adolescents’ social lives. This study examines the influences of Internet use in Taiwan on two important adolescent social behaviors: first romantic relationship and sexual debut. Using data from the Taiwan Youth Project (TYP), 2000–2009, the results of event history analyses suggest that adolescents’ Internet use for educational purposes reduces the rates of having a first romantic relationship and a sexual debut in adolescence, whereas using the Internet for social networking, visiting internet cafés, and surfing pornographic websites increase the rates. There are gender differences in the effects of these Internet activities on adolescents’ intimate experiences. Logistic analyses further show that Internet activities also affect the likelihood of whether adolescents have a sexual debut before a first romantic relationship. The implications of these findings are discussed in the conclusion.
Dunkley, Victoria 2015 Reset Your Child’s Brain: A Four-Week Plan to End Meltdowns, Raise Grades, and Boost Social Skills by Reversing the Effects of Electronic Screen-Time Paperback. New World Library ISBN-10: 1608682846
Increasing numbers of parents grapple with children who are acting out without obvious reason. Many of these children are diagnosed with ADHD, bipolar, or autism spectrum disorders. They are then medicated with often poor and side-effect-riddled results. Victoria Dunckley specializes in working with children and families who have failed to respond to previous treatment and has pioneered a new programme. In her work with more than 500 children, teens, and young adults diagnosed with psychiatric disorders, 80 percent showed marked improvement on the four-week programme presented here. Interactive screens, including video games, laptops, cell phones, and tablets over stimulate a child s nervous system. While no one in today’s connected world can completely shun electronic stimuli, Dunckley shows how the most vulnerable amongst us can and should be spared their damaging effects
Gouin J-P, Carter S, Pournajafi-Nazarlooc H, Glaser R, Malarkey WB, Loving TJ, Stowell J, and Kiecolt-Glaser JK Marital Behavior, Oxytocin, Vasopressin, and Wound Healing in Psychoneuroendocrinology. 2010 August ; 35(7): 1082–1090. doi: 10.1016/j.psyneuen.2010.01.009. (Relationships)
Animal studies have implicated oxytocin and vasopressin in social bonding, physiological stress responses, and wound healing. In humans, endogenous oxytocin and vasopressin levels covary with perceptions of relationship quality, marital behaviors, and physiological stress responses. To investigate relationships among marital behavior, oxytocin, vasopressin, and wound healing, and to determine the characteristics of individuals with the highest neuropeptide levels, 37 couples were admitted for a 24-hour visit in a hospital research unit. After small blister wounds were created on their forearm, couples participated in a structured social support interaction task. Blister sites were monitored daily following discharge to assess wound repair speed. Blood samples were collected for oxytocin, vasopressin, and cytokine analyses. Higher oxytocin levels were associated with more positive communication behaviors during the structured interaction task. Furthermore, individuals in the upper oxytocin quartile healed blister wounds faster than participants in lower oxytocin quartiles. Higher vasopressin levels were related to fewer negative communication behaviors and greater tumor necrosis factor-α production. Moreover, women in the upper vasopressin quartile healed the experimental wounds faster than the remainder of the sample. These data confirm and extend prior evidence implicating oxytocin and vasopressin in couples’ positive and negative communication behaviors, and also provide further evidence of their role in an important health outcome, wound healing.
The full paper is available to download for free here.
Johnson PM and Kenny PJ Addiction-like reward dysfunction and compulsive eating in obese rats: Role for dopamine D2 receptors in Nature Neuroscience. 2010 May; 13(5): 635–641. Published online 2010 Mar 28. doi: 10.1038/nn.2519
We found that development of obesity was coupled with the emergence of a progressively worsening brain reward deficit. Similar changes in reward homeostasis induced by cocaine or heroin is considered a critical trigger in the transition from casual to compulsive drug-taking. Accordingly, we detected compulsive-like feeding behavior in obese but not lean rats, measured as palatable food consumption that was resistant to disruption by an aversive conditioned stimulus. Striatal dopamine D2 receptors (D2R) were downregulated in obese rats, similar to previous reports in human drug addicts. Moreover, lentivirus-mediated knockdown of striatal D2R rapidly accelerated the development of addiction-like reward deficits and the onset of compulsive-like food seeking in rats with extended access to palatable high-fat food. These data demonstrate that overconsumption of palatable food triggers addiction-like neuroadaptive responses in brain reward circuitries and drives the development of compulsive eating. Common hedonic mechanisms may therefore underlie obesity and drug addiction.
The article is available for free here.
Johnson ZV and Young LJ Neurobiological mechanisms of social attachment and pair bonding in Current Opinion in Behavioral Sciences. 2015 Jun; 3: 38–44. doi: 10.1016/j.cobeha.2015.01.009. (Relationships)
Species have evolved diverse social behavior and mating strategies in response to selective forces in their environments. While promiscuity is the predominant mating strategy across most vertebrate taxa, convergent evolution of monogamous mating systems has occurred multiple times across distant lineages. Monogamous behavior is thought to be facilitated by a neurobiological capacity to form and maintain selective social attachments, or pair bonds, with a mating partner. The neural mechanisms of pair bonding behavior have been investigated most rigorously in Microtine rodents, which exhibit diverse social organizations. These studies have highlighted mesolimbic dopamine pathways, social neuropeptides (oxytocin and vasopressin), and other neural systems as integral factors in the formation, maintenance, and expression of pair bonds.
The full paper is available online for free here.
Kastbom, AA, Sydsjö G, Bladh M, Priebe G, and Svedin CG Sexual debut before the age of 14 leads to poorer psychosocial health and risky behaviour in later life in Acta Paediatrica, Volume 104, Issue 1, pages 91–100, January 2015. DOI: 10.1111/apa.12803. (Health)
Aim: This study investigated the relationship between sexual debut before 14 years of age and socio-demographics, sexual experience, health, experience of child abuse and behaviour at 18 years of age.
Methods: A sample of 3432 Swedish high school seniors completed a survey about sexuality, health and abuse at the age of 18.
Results: Early debut was positively correlated with risky behaviours, such as the number of partners, experience of oral and anal sex, health behaviours, such as smoking, drug and alcohol use, and antisocial behaviour, such as being violent, lying, stealing and running away from home. Girls with an early sexual debut had significantly more experience of sexual abuse. Boys with an early sexual debut were more likely to have a weak sense of coherence, low self-esteem and poor mental health, together with experience of sexual abuse, selling sex and physical abuse. A multiple logistic regression model showed that a number of antisocial acts and health behaviours remained significant, but early sexual debut did not increase the risk of psychiatric symptoms, low self-esteem or low sense of coherence at 18 years of age.
Conclusion: Early sexual debut was associated with problematic behaviours during later adolescence, and this vulnerability requires attention from parents and healthcare providers.
Full text of this article is available here.
Ko CH, Liu TL, Wang PW, Chen CS, Yen CF and Yen JY The exacerbation of depression, hostility, and social anxiety in the course of Internet addiction among adolescents: a prospective study in Comprehensive Psychiatry Volume 55, Issue 6, Pages 1377-1384. Epub 2014 May 17. doi: 10.1016/j.comppsych.2014.05.003. (Health)
BACKGROUND: In adolescent populations worldwide, Internet addiction is prevalent and is often comorbid with depression, hostility, and social anxiety of adolescents. This study aimed at evaluating the exacerbation of depression, hostility, and social anxiety in the course of getting addiction to Internet or remitting from Internet addiction among adolescents.
METHOD: This study recruited 2,293 adolescents in grade 7 to assess their depression, hostility, social anxiety and Internet addiction. The same assessments were repeated one year later. The incidence group was defined as subjects classified as non-addicted in the first assessment and as addicted in the second assessment. The remission group was defined as subjects classified as addicted in the first assessment and as non-addicted in the second assessment.
RESULTS: The incidence group exhibited increased depression and hostility more than the non-addiction group and the effect of on depression was stronger among adolescent girls. Further, the remission group showed decreased depression, hostility, and social anxiety more than the persistent addiction group.
CONCLUSIONS: Depression and hostility worsen in the addiction process for the Internet among adolescents. Intervention of Internet addiction should be provided to prevent its negative effect on mental health. Depression, hostility, and social anxiety decreased in the process of remission. It suggested that the negative consequences could be reversed if Internet addiction could be remitted within a short duration.
Kühn, S and Gallinat J Brain Structure and Functional Connectivity Associated With Pornography Consumption: The Brain on Porn in JAMA Psychiatry. 2014; 71(7):827-834. doi:10.1001/jamapsychiatry.2014.93.
Importance: Since pornography appeared on the Internet, the accessibility, affordability, and anonymity of consuming visual sexual stimuli have increased and attracted millions of users. Based on the assumption that pornography consumption bears resemblance with reward-seeking behavior, novelty-seeking behavior, and addictive behavior, we hypothesized alterations of the frontostriatal network in frequent users.
Objective: To determine whether frequent pornography consumption is associated with the frontostriatal network.
Design, Setting, and Participants In a study conducted at the Max Planck Institute for Human Development in Berlin, Germany, 64 healthy male adults covering a wide range of pornography consumption reported hours of pornography consumption per week. Pornography consumption was associated with neural structure, task-related activation, and functional resting-state connectivity.
Main Outcomes and Measures Gray matter volume of the brain was measured by voxel-based morphometry and resting state functional connectivity was measured on 3-T magnetic resonance imaging scans.
Results We found a significant negative association between reported pornography hours per week and gray matter volume in the right caudate (P < .001, corrected for multiple comparisons) as well as with functional activity during a sexual cue–reactivity paradigm in the left putamen (P < .001). Functional connectivity of the right caudate to the left dorsolateral prefrontal cortex was negatively associated with hours of pornography consumption.
Conclusions and Relevance The negative association of self-reported pornography consumption with the right striatum (caudate) volume, left striatum (putamen) activation during cue reactivity, and lower functional connectivity of the right caudate to the left dorsolateral prefrontal cortex could reflect change in neural plasticity as a consequence of an intense stimulation of the reward system, together with a lower top-down modulation of prefrontal cortical areas. Alternatively, it could be a precondition that makes pornography consumption more rewarding.
This article is available for free here.
Lambert NM, Negash S, Stillman TF, Olmstead SB, and Fincham FD A Love That Doesn’t Last: Pornography Consumption and Weakened Commitment to One’s Romantic Partner in Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology: Vol. 31, No. 4, pp. 410-438, 2012. doi: 10.1521/jscp.2012.31.4.410. (Health)
We examined whether the consumption of pornography affects romantic relationships, with the expectation that higher levels of pornography consumption would correspond to weakened commitment in young adult romantic relationships. Study 1 (n = 367) found that higher pornography consumption was related to lower commitment, and Study 2 (n = 34) replicated this finding using observational data. Study 3 (n = 20) participants were randomly assigned to either refrain from viewing pornography or to a self-control task. Those who continued using pornography reported lower levels of commitment than control participants. In Study 4 (n = 67), participants consuming higher levels of pornography flirted more with an extradyadic partner during an online chat. Study 5 (n= 240) found that pornography consumption was positively related to infidelity and this association was mediated by commitment. Overall, a consistent pattern of results was found using a variety of approaches including cross-sectional (Study 1), observational (Study 2), experimental (Study 3), and behavioral (Studies 4 and 5) data.
Levin ME, Lillis J and Hayes SC When is Online Pornography Viewing Problematic Among College Males? Examining the Moderating Role of Experiential Avoidance in Sexual Addiction & Compulsivity: The Journal of Treatment & Prevention. Volume 19, Issue 3, 2012, pages 168-180, DOI: 10.1080/10720162.2012.657150. (Health)
Internet pornography viewing is common among college-aged males, but it is unclear whether and for whom such viewing is problematic. One potential process that may account for whether viewing is problematic is experiential avoidance: seeking to reduce the form, frequency, or situational sensitivity of private experiences even when doing so causes behavioral harm. The current study examined the relationship of Internet pornography viewing and experiential avoidance to a range of psychosocial problems (depression, anxiety, stress, social functioning, and problems related to viewing) through a cross-sectional online survey conducted with a non-clinical sample of 157 undergraduate college males. Results indicated that frequency of viewing was significantly related to each psychosocial variable, such that more viewing was related to greater problems. Furthermore, experiential avoidance moderated the relationship between viewing and two psychosocial variables, such that viewing predicted anxiety and problems related to viewing only among those participants with clinical levels of experiential avoidance. These results are discussed in the context of research on experiential avoidance and treatment approaches that target this process.
Love T, Laier C, Brand M, Hatch L and Hajela R Neuroscience of Internet Pornography Addiction: A Review and Update in Behavioral Sciences 2015, 5(3), 388-433; doi:10.3390/bs5030388. (Health)
Many recognize that several behaviors potentially affecting the reward circuitry in human brains lead to a loss of control and other symptoms of addiction in at least some individuals. Regarding Internet addiction, neuroscientific research supports the assumption that underlying neural processes are similar to substance addiction. The American Psychiatric Association (APA) has recognized one such Internet related behavior, Internet gaming, as a potential addictive disorder warranting further study, in the 2013 revision of their Diagnostic and Statistical Manual. Other Internet related behaviors, e.g., Internet pornography use, were not covered. Within this review, we give a summary of the concepts proposed underlying addiction and give an overview about neuroscientific studies on Internet addiction and Internet gaming disorder. Moreover, we reviewed available neuroscientific literature on Internet pornography addiction and connect the results to the addiction model. The review leads to the conclusion that Internet pornography addiction fits into the addiction framework and shares similar basic mechanisms with substance addiction. Together with studies on Internet addiction and Internet Gaming Disorder we see strong evidence for considering addictive Internet behaviors as behavioral addiction. Future research needs to address whether or not there are specific differences between substance and behavioral addiction.
This item is available in full for free here.
Luster SS, Nelson LJ, Poulsen FO, Willoughby BJ Emerging Adult Sexual Attitudes and Behaviors Does Shyness Matter? in Emerging Adulthood. 2013 Sep 1;1(3):185–95. (Home)
Numerous studies have shown how shyness affects individuals in childhood and adolescence; however, little is known about the effects shyness may have in emerging adulthood. This study addressed how shyness may be associated with sexual attitudes and behaviors of emerging adult men and women. Participants included 717 students from four college sites across the United States, who were largely female (69%), European American (69%), unmarried (100%), and living outside their parents’ home (90%). Results suggested that shyness was positively associated with sexual attitudes (reflecting more liberal views) for men whereas shyness was negatively associated with sexual attitudes for women. Shyness was positively associated with solitary sexual behaviors of masturbation and pornography use for men. Shyness was also negatively associated with relational sexual behaviors (coital and noncoital) and number of lifetime partners for women. Implications for these findings are discussed.
Maddox AM, Rhoades GK, Markman HJ Viewing Sexually-Explicit Materials Alone or Together: Associations with Relationship Quality in Arch Sex Behav. 2011 Apr; 40(2):441–8.
This study investigated associations between viewing sexually-explicit material (SEM) and relationship functioning in a random sample of 1291 unmarried individuals in romantic relationships. More men (76.8%) than women (31.6%) reported that they viewed SEM on their own, but nearly half of both men and women reported sometimes viewing SEM with their partner (44.8%). Measures of communication, relationship adjustment, commitment, sexual satisfaction, and infidelity were examined. Individuals who never viewed SEM reported higher relationship quality on all indices than those who viewed SEM alone. Those who viewed SEM only with their partners reported more dedication and higher sexual satisfaction than those who viewed SEM alone. The only difference between those who never viewed SEM and those who viewed it only with their partners was that those who never viewed it had lower rates of infidelity. Implications for future research in this area as well as for sex therapy and couple therapy are discussed.
The full paper is available to download for free here.
Negash S, Sheppard NV, Lambert NM and Fincham FD Trading Later Rewards for Current Pleasure: Pornography Consumption and Delay Discounting in Journal of Sex Research, 2015 Aug 25:1-12. [Epub ahead of print]. (Health)
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 that consuming Internet pornography would relate to higher rates of delay discounting. Study 1 used a longitudinal design. Participants completed a pornography use questionnaire and a delay discounting task at Time 1 and then again four weeks later. Participants reporting higher initial pornography use demonstrated a higher delay discounting rate at Time 2, controlling for initial delay discounting. Study 2 tested for causality with an experimental design. Participants were randomly assigned to abstain from either their favorite food or pornography for three weeks. 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. Theoretical and clinical implications of these studies are highlighted.
Ng JYS, Wong ML, Chan RKW, Sen P, Chio MTW, and Koh D Gender Differences in Factors Associated With Anal Intercourse Among Heterosexual Adolescents in Singapore in AIDS Education and Prevention, 2015, Vol. 27, No. 4, pp. 373-385. doi: 10.1521/aeap.2015.27.4.373. (Health)
Using a cross-sectional survey, we examined the gender differences in prevalence of and factors associated with anal sex among adolescents attending the only public STI clinic in Singapore. Data were collected from 1035 sexually active adolescents aged 14 to 19 and analyzed using Poisson regression. Prevalence of anal intercourse was 28%, with significantly more females (32%) than males (23%) ever engaged in it. On multivariate analysis, the factors associated with anal intercourse for both genders were oral sex and the nonuse of contraception at last sex. For males, anal intercourse was associated with younger age of sexual debut and greater perceived external control. Among females, it was associated with higher rebellious scores and lack of confidence to resist peer pressure to engage in sex. Consistent condom use for anal sex was 22% and 8% for males and females, respectively. STI prevention programs for adolescents should address anal sex, be gender-specific, and take into consideration individual personality characteristics.
Peters ST, Bowen MT, Bohrer K, McGregor IS and Neumann ID Oxytocin inhibits ethanol consumption and ethanol-induced dopamine release in the nucleus accumbens in Addiction Biology. Article first published online: 25 January 2016, DOI: 10.1111/adb.12362. (Relationships)
Alcohol (EtOH) is one of the most widely abused recreational drugs and is arguably the most harmful. However, current treatment options for alcohol-use disorders generally have limited efficacy and poor uptake in the community. In this context, the neuropeptide oxytocin (OXT) has emerged as a promising potential treatment option for a number of substance-use disorders, including alcoholism. The utility of OXT in reducing consumption of and craving for a wide range of substances may lie in its ability to modulate drug-induced neurochemical effects within the mesolimbic dopamine pathway. However, the impact of OXT on EtOH actions in this pathway has yet to be explored. Here, we reveal that an acute intracerebroventricular (icv) infusion of OXT (1 µg/5 µl) attenuated voluntary EtOH (20 percent) self-administration after chronic intermittent access to EtOH for 59 days (28 drinking sessions) in male Wistar rats. Next, we demonstrated that an acute intraperitoneal (ip) injection of EtOH (1.5 g/kg, 15 percent w/v) increased dopamine release within the nucleus accumbens in both EtOH-naive rats and rats that had received 10 daily ip injections of EtOH. Icv OXT completely blocked the EtOH-induced dopamine release in both EtOH-naive and chronically treated rats. The attenuation of EtOH-induced dopamine release by OXT may help to explain the reduced EtOH self-administration observed following icv OXT infusion.
Pizzol, D., Bertoldo, A., & Foresta, C. Adolescents and web porn: a new era of sexuality in International Journal of Adolescent Medicine and Health Aug 7 2015. pii: /j/ijamh.ahead-of-print/ijamh-2015-0003/ijamh-2015-0003.xml. doi: 10.1515/ijamh-2015-0003. (Health)
BACKGROUND: Pornography can affect the lifestyles of adolescents, especially in terms of their sexual habits and porn consumption, and may have a significant influence on their sexual attitudes and behaviors.
OBJECTIVE: The aim of this study was to understand and analyze the frequency, duration, and perception of web porn utilization by young Italians attending high school.
MATERIALS AND METHODS: A total of 1,565 students attending the final year of high school were involved in the study, and 1,492 have agreed to fill out an anonymous survey. The questions representing the content of this study were: 1) How often do you access the web? 2) How much time do you remain connected? 3) Do you connect to pornographic sites? 4) How often do you access pornographic sites? 5) How much time you spend on them? 6) How often do you masturbate? and 7) How do you rate the attendance of these sites? Statistical analysis was performed by Fischer’s test.
RESULTS: All young people, on an almost daily basis, have access to Internet. Among those surveyed, 1,163 (77.9%) of Internet users admit to the consumption of pornographic material, and of these, 93 (8%) access pornographic websites daily, 686 (59%) boys accessing these sites perceive the consumption of pornography as always stimulating, 255 (21.9%) define it as habitual, 116 (10%) report that it reduces sexual interest towards potential real-life partners, and the remaining 106 (9.1%) report a kind of addiction. In addition, 19% of overall pornography consumers report an abnormal sexual response, while the percentage rose to 25.1% among regular consumers.
CONCLUSIONS: It is necessary to educate web users, especially young users, to a safe and responsible use of the Internet and of its contents. Moreover, public education campaigns should be increased in number and frequency to help improve knowledge of Internet-related sexual issues both by adolescents and by parents.
Postman N and Postman A (Introduction) Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business Paperback, 20th Anniversary Edition, 208 pages 2005 by Penguin Books (first published 1985). ISBN 014303653X (ISBN13: 9780143036531) (Leaning)
Originally published in 1985, Neil Postman’s ground breaking polemic about the corrosive effects of television on our politics and public discourse has been hailed as a twenty-first-century book published in the twentieth century. Now, with television joined by more sophisticated electronic media—from the Internet to cell phones to DVDs—it has taken on even greater significance. Amusing Ourselves to Death is a prophetic look at what happens when politics, journalism, education, and even religion become subject to the demands of entertainment. It is also a blueprint for regaining control of our media, so that they can serve our highest goals.
Pratt R. and Fernandes C How Pornography May Distort Risk Assessment of Children and Adolescents Who Sexually Harm in Children Australia, Volume 40 Issue 03, September 2015, pp 232-241. DOI: 10.1017/cha.2015.28. (Health)
Over the past three decades, an accepted “given” of adolescent sexually abusive behaviour assessment and treatment has been that the more serious the sexual acts committed, the more entrenched that adolescent’s behaviours are likely to be, with a likely progression from minor assaults through to more serious, intrusive acts. We assume youth engaging in the sexually abusive behaviour may have become both desensitised to the harm they are causing, whilst needing to engage in more severe offences to gain the level of arousal originally achieved through lesser acts. This conceptualisation suggests a somewhat causal relationship between the duration of the sexually abusive behaviour; the severity of the behaviour and the length of treatment required to manage and treat the issue.
Has pornography consumption potentially impacted the assessment and treatment of youth who sexually harm? Does a relationship exist between the severity and the entrenchment of the sexually assaultive acts committed, or has viewing pornography and re-enacting what has been viewed altered this relationship? This article explores a number of these themes and questions.
Reid RC, Davtian M, Lenartowicz A, Torrevillas RM, Fong TW Perspectives on the assessment and treatment of adult ADHD in hypersexual men in Neuropsychiatry. 2013 Jun 1;3(3):295–308. (Home)
This article reviews the current body of research on adult ADHD and hypersexual behavior. Drawing on perspectives from the fields of psychology and neuroscience, several suggestions are offered to explain why individuals with ADHD may be vulnerable to engaging in hypersexual behavior. Assessment guidelines are provided to help clinicians differentiate characteristics of hypersexuality from adult ADHD. Finally, recommendations are made for the treatment of adult ADHD in hypersexual patients.
Shayer, M., Ginsburg, D. and Coe, R, Thirty years on – a large anti-Flynn effect? The Piagetian test Volume & Heaviness norms 1975–2003. British Journal of Educational Psychology, 2007, 77: 25–41. doi: 10.1348/000709906X96987
Background. Volume & Heaviness was one of three Piagetian tests used in the CSMS survey in 1975/76. However unlike psychometric tests showing the Flynn effect – that is with students showing steady improvements year by year requiring tests to be restandardized – it appeared that the performance of Y7 students has recently been getting steadily worse.
Aims. A sample of schools sufficiently large and representative was chosen so that the hypothesis of worsening performance could be tested, and estimated quantitatively.
Sample. Sixty-nine Y7 school year groups containing pupil data on the Volume & Heaviness test and the University of Durham CEM Centre MidYIS test were located giving a sample of 10, 023 students covering the years 2000 to 2003.
Method. Regression of the students’ school mean on Volume & Heaviness on the schools’ mean MidYIS 1999 standardized score, and computing the regression at MidYS = 100 allows comparison with that found in 1976.
Results. The mean drops in scores from 1976 to 2003 were boys = 1.13 and girls = 0.6 levels. A differential of 0.50 standard deviations in favour of boys in 1976 had completely disappeared by the year 2002. Between 1976 and 2003 the effect-size of the drop in the boys’ performance was 1.04 standard deviations, and for girls was 0.55 standard deviations.
Conclusion. The idea that children leaving primary school are getting more and more intelligent and competent – whether it is viewed in terms of the Flynn effect, or in terms of government statistics on performance in Key Stage 2 SATS in mathematics and science – is put into question by these findings.
Singleton O, Hölzel BK, Vangel M, Brach N , Carmody J and Lazar SW. Change in Brainstem Gray Matter Concentration Following a Mindfulness-Based Intervention is Correlated with Improvement in Psychological Well-Being in Frontiers of Human Neuroscience, 2014 Feb 18; 8:33. doi: 10.3389/fnhum.2014.00033. (Quitting Porn)
Individuals can improve their levels of psychological well-being (PWB) through utilization of psychological interventions, including the practice of mindfulness meditation, which is defined as the non-judgmental awareness of experiences in the present moment. We recently reported that an 8-week-mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) course lead to increases in gray matter concentration in several brain areas, as detected with voxel-based morphometry of magnetization prepared rapid acquisition gradient echo MRI scans, including the pons/raphe/locus coeruleus area of the brainstem. Given the role of the pons and raphe in mood and arousal, we hypothesized that changes in this region might underlie changes in well-being. A subset of 14 healthy individuals from a previously published data set completed anatomical MRI and filled out the PWB scale before and after MBSR participation. PWB change was used as the predictive regressor for changes in gray matter density within those brain regions that had previously shown pre- to post-MBSR changes. Results showed that scores on five PWB subscales as well as the PWB total score increased significantly over the MBSR course. The change was positively correlated with gray matter concentration increases in two symmetrically bilateral clusters in the brainstem. Those clusters appeared to contain the area of the pontine tegmentum, locus coeruleus, nucleus raphe pontis, and the sensory trigeminal nucleus. No clusters were negatively correlated with the change in PWB. This preliminary study suggests a neural correlate of enhanced PWB. The identified brain areas include the sites of synthesis and release of the neurotransmitters, norepinephrine and serotonin, which are involved in the modulation of arousal and mood, and have been related to a variety of affective functions as well as associated clinical dysfunctions.
Full text of this article is available here.
Stewart DN, Szymanski DM Young Adult Women’s Reports of Their Male Romantic Partner’s Pornography Use as a Correlate of Their Self-Esteem, Relationship Quality, and Sexual Satisfaction in Sex Roles. 2012 May 6;67 (5–6):257–71. (Home)
Pornography is both prevalent and normative in many cultures across the world, including United States’ culture; however, little is known about the psychological and relational effects that it can have on young adult women involved in heterosexual romantic relationships in which their male partners view pornography. The purpose of this study was to examine the relationships between men’s pornography use, both frequency and problematic use, on their heterosexual female partner’s psychological and relational well-being among 308 young adult college women. In addition, psychometric properties for the Perceived Partner’s Pornography Use Scale are provided. Participants were recruited at a large Southern public university in the United States and completed an online survey. Results revealed women’s reports of their male partner’s frequency of pornography use were negatively associated with their relationship quality. More perceptions of problematic use of pornography was negatively correlated with self-esteem, relationship quality, and sexual satisfaction. In addition, self-esteem partially mediated the relationship between perceptions of partner’s problematic pornography use and relationship quality. Finally, results revealed that relationship length moderated the relationship between perceptions of partner’s problematic pornography use and sexual satisfaction, with significant dissatisfaction being associated with longer relationship length.
Sun C, Bridges A, Johnason J and Ezzell M Pornography and the Male Sexual Script: An Analysis of Consumption and Sexual Relations in Archives of Sexual Behavior First online: 03 December 2014, pp 1-12. (Health)
Pornography has become a primary source of sexual education. At the same time, mainstream commercial pornography has coalesced around a relatively homogenous script involving violence and female degradation. Yet, little work has been done exploring the associations between pornography and dyadic sexual encounters: What role does pornography play inside real-world sexual encounters between a man and a woman? Cognitive script theory argues media scripts create a readily accessible heuristic model for decision-making. The more a user watches a particular media script, the more embedded those codes of behavior become in their worldview and the more likely they are to use those scripts to act upon real life experiences. We argue pornography creates a sexual script that then guides sexual experiences. To test this, we surveyed 487 college men (ages 18–29 years) in the United States to compare their rate of pornography use with sexual preferences and concerns. Results showed the more pornography a man watches, the more likely he was to use it during sex, request particular pornographic sex acts of his partner, deliberately conjure images of pornography during sex to maintain arousal, and have concerns over his own sexual performance and body image. Further, higher pornography use was negatively associated with enjoying sexually intimate behaviors with a partner. We conclude that pornography provides a powerful heuristic model which is implicated in men’s expectations and behaviors during sexual encounters.
Sun C, Miezan E, Lee N-Y and Shim J-W Korean Men’s Pornography use, Their Interest in Extreme Pornography, and Dyadic Sexual Relationships in International Journal of Sexual Health, Volume 27, Issue 1, 2015 pages 16-35. DOI: 10.1080/19317611.2014.927048 Published online: 20 Nov 2014. (Health)
Objectives: The aim of the study was to assess the connections between pornography use (both frequency and interest in extreme pornography) and dyadic sexual relationships. Methods: Six-hundred eighty-five heterosexual South Korean male college students participated in an online survey. Results: The majority (84.5%) of respondents had viewed pornography, and for those who were sexually active (470 respondents), we found that higher interest in degrading or extreme pornography was associated with the experience of role-playing sexual scenes from pornography with a partner, and a preference for using pornography to achieve and maintain sexual excitement over having sex with a partner. Conclusions: The findings were consistent but with differences from a U.S. study with the same methodology, suggesting that attention should be paid to cultural differences.
Sutton KS, Stratton N, Pytyck J, Kolla NJ, Cantor JM Patient Characteristics by Type of Hypersexuality Referral: A Quantitative Chart Review of 115 Consecutive Male Cases in J Sex Marital Ther. 2015 Dec;41(6):563–80. (Home)
Hypersexuality remains an increasingly common but poorly understood patient complaint. Despite diversity in clinical presentations of patients referred for hypersexuality, the literature has maintained treatment approaches that are assumed to apply to the entire phenomenon. This approach has proven ineffective, despite its application over several decades. The present study used quantitative methods to examine demographic, mental health, and sexological correlates of common clinical subtypes of hypersexuality referrals. Findings support the existence of subtypes, each with distinct clusters of features. Paraphilic hypersexuals reported greater numbers of sexual partners, more substance abuse, initiation to sexual activity at an earlier age, and novelty as a driving force behind their sexual behavior. Avoidant masturbators reported greater levels of anxiety, delayed ejaculation, and use of sex as an avoidance strategy. Chronic adulterers reported premature ejaculation and later onset of puberty. Designated patients were less likely to report substance abuse, employment, or finance problems. Although quantitative, this article nonetheless presents a descriptive study in which the underlying typology emerged from features most salient in routine sexological assessment. Future studies might apply purely empirical statistical techniques, such as cluster analyses, to ascertain to what extent similar typologies emerge when examined prospectively.
A critique of this article is available here.
Svedin CG, Åkerman I and Priebe G Frequent users of pornography. A population based epidemiological study of Swedish male adolescents in Journal of Adolescence, Volume 34, Issue 4, August 2011, Pages 779–788. doi:10.1016/j.adolescence.2010.04.010. (Health)
Frequent use of pornography has not been sufficiently studied before. In a Swedish survey 2015 male students aged 18 years participated. A group of frequent users of pornography (N = 200, 10.5%) were studied with respect to background and psychosocial correlates. The frequent users had a more positive attitude to pornography, were more often “turned on” viewing pornography and viewed more often advanced forms of pornography. Frequent use was also associated with many problem behaviours. A multiple logistic regression analysis showed that frequent users of pornography were more likely to be living in a large city, consuming alcohol more often, having greater sexual desire and had more often sold sex than other boys of the same age.
High frequent viewing of pornography may be seen as a problematic behaviour that needs more attention from both parents and teachers and also to be addressed in clinical interviews.
Valliant, GE Triumphs of Experience: The Men of the Harvard Grant Study. 2012 Harvard University Press. ISBN 9780674059825. (Relationships)
Publisher’s Description of the book
At a time when many people around the world are living into their tenth decade, the longest longitudinal study of human development ever undertaken offers some welcome news for the new old age: our lives continue to evolve in our later years, and often become more fulfilling than before.
Begun in 1938, the Grant Study of Adult Development charted the physical and emotional health of over 200 men, starting with their undergraduate days. The now-classic Adaptation to Life reported on the men’s lives up to age 55 and helped us understand adult maturation. Now George Vaillant follows the men into their nineties, documenting for the first time what it is like to flourish far beyond conventional retirement.
Reporting on all aspects of male life, including relationships, politics and religion, coping strategies, and alcohol use (its abuse being by far the greatest disruptor of health and happiness for the study’s subjects), Triumphs of Experience shares a number of surprising findings. For example, the people who do well in old age did not necessarily do so well in midlife, and vice versa. While the study confirms that recovery from a lousy childhood is possible, memories of a happy childhood are a lifelong source of strength. Marriages bring much more contentment after age 70, and physical aging after 80 is determined less by heredity than by habits formed prior to age 50. The credit for growing old with grace and vitality, it seems, goes more to ourselves than to our stellar genetic makeup.
Voon V, Mole TB, Banca P, Porter L, Morris L, Mitchell S, et al. Neural Correlates of Sexual Cue Reactivity in Individuals with and without Compulsive Sexual Behaviours in PLoS ONE. : 2014 Jul 11; 9(7):e102419. (Home)
Although compulsive sexual behaviour (CSB) has been conceptualized as a “behavioural” addiction and common or overlapping neural circuits may govern the processing of natural and drug rewards, little is known regarding the responses to sexually explicit materials in individuals with and without CSB. Here, the processing of cues of varying sexual content was assessed in individuals with and without CSB, focusing on neural regions identified in prior studies of drug-cue reactivity. 19 CSB subjects and 19 healthy volunteers were assessed using functional MRI comparing sexually explicit videos with non-sexual exciting videos. Ratings of sexual desire and liking were obtained. Relative to healthy volunteers, CSB subjects had greater desire but similar liking scores in response to the sexually explicit videos. Exposure to sexually explicit cues in CSB compared to non-CSB subjects was associated with activation of the dorsal anterior cingulate, ventral striatum and amygdala. Functional connectivity of the dorsal anterior cingulate-ventral striatum-amygdala network was associated with subjective sexual desire (but not liking) to a greater degree in CSB relative to non-CSB subjects. The dissociation between desire or wanting and liking is consistent with theories of incentive motivation underlying CSB as in drug addictions. Neural differences in the processing of sexual-cue reactivity were identified in CSB subjects in regions previously implicated in drug-cue reactivity studies. The greater engagement of corticostriatal limbic circuitry in CSB following exposure to sexual cues suggests neural mechanisms underlying CSB and potential biological targets for interventions.
The full paper is available to download for free here.
Weaver JB, Weaver SS, Mays D, Hopkins GL, Kannenberg W, McBride D Mental and physical-health indicators and sexually explicit media use behavior by adults in Journal of Sexual Medicine. 2011 Mar;8(3):764–72.
INTRODUCTION: Converging evidence from culturally diverse contexts indicates that sexually explicit media use behavior (SEMB; i.e., pornography consumption) is associated with risky sexual health perceptions and behaviors, many that involve high risks of HIV/STD transmission.
AIM: Essentially unexplored, and the focus here, are potential relationships between SEMB and nonsexual mental- and physical-health indicators.
MAIN OUTCOME MEASURE: Variability in six continuously measured health indicators (depressive symptoms, mental- and physical-health diminished days, health status, quality of life, and body mass index) was examined across two levels (users, nonusers) of SEMB.
METHODS: A sample of 559 Seattle-Tacoma Internet-using adults was surveyed in 2006. Multivariate general linear models parameterized in a SEMB by respondent gender (2 × 2) factorial design were computed incorporating adjustments for several demographics.
RESULTS: SEMB was reported by 36.7% (n = 205) of the sample. Most SEMB users (78%) were men. After adjusting for demographics, SEMB users, compared to nonusers, reported greater depressive symptoms, poorer quality of life, more mental- and physical-health diminished days, and lower health status.
CONCLUSIONS: The findings show that mental- and physical-health indicators vary significantly across SEMB, suggesting the value of incorporating these factors in future research and programmatic endeavors. In particular, the findings suggest that evidence-based sexual health promotion strategies simultaneously addressing individuals’ SEMB and their mental health needs might be a useful approach to improve mental health and address preventable sexual health outcomes associated with SEMB.
Weber M, Quiring O and Daschmann G Peers, Parents and Pornography: Exploring Adolescents’ Exposure to Sexually Explicit Material and Its Developmental Correlates in Sexuality & Culture, December 2012, Volume 16, Issue 4, pp 408-427. (Health)
On the basis of an online survey of 352 teenagers aged between 16 and 19, the use of pornographic video clips and films was investigated along with the connection between this use and indicators of adolescents’ perceived autonomy, peer group influences, and notions of sexuality. We found that many adolescents regularly use pornographic video clips or films. Respondents who regard themselves as less independent of their environment, especially their parents, use pornography more frequently themselves. For girls, this also applies if they assess the use within their peer group as particularly extensive, and for boys, if they frequently discuss pornography within their peer group. A high level of consumption of sexually explicit media also goes hand in hand with the assumption that people generally have sexual intercourse earlier in life and that people generally favor more varied sexual techniques.
Wilson, Gary 2014 Your Brain On Porn: Internet Pornography and the Emerging Science of Addiction, Commonwealth Publishing ISBN 978-0-9931616-0-5
“Your Brain on Porn is written in a simple clear language appropriate for expert and layperson alike and is rooted firmly within the principles of neuroscience, behavioural psychology and evolution theory … As an experimental psychologist, I have spent over forty years researching the bases of motivation and I can confirm that Wilson’s analysis fits very well with all that I have found.”
Professor Frederick Toates, Open University, author of How Sexual Desire Works: The Enigmatic Urge.
Available to purchase from the publisher.
Wright PJ, Sun C, Steffen NJ and Tokunaga RS Pornography, Alcohol, and Male Sexual Dominance in Communication Monographs Volume 82, Issue 2, 2015 pages 252-270. Published online: 19 Nov 2014. DOI: 10.1080/03637751.2014.981558. (Health)
This study surveyed German heterosexual men’s interest and engagement in a variety of dominant behaviors observed in recent analyses of pornography. Interest in watching popular pornographic movies or more frequent consumption of pornography was associated with men’s desire to engage in or having already engaged in behaviors such as hair pulling, spanking a partner hard enough to leave a mark, facial ejaculation, confinement, double-penetration (i.e. penetrating a partner’s anus or vagina simultaneously with another man), ass-to-mouth (i.e. anally penetrating a partner and then inserting the penis directly into her mouth), penile gagging, facial slapping, choking, and name-calling (e.g. “slut” or “whore”). Consistent with past experimental research on the effect of alcohol and pornography exposure on men’s likelihood of sexual coercion, men who had engaged in the most dominant behaviors were those who frequently consumed pornography and regularly consumed alcohol before or during sex.
This article is available to view for free here.