Thew Reward Foundation

Understanding how we learn and unlearn habits is key to appreciating how and why internet pornography can become a problem for mental and physical health. In this section The Reward Foundation looks at learning from several different angles.

Research shows that regular pornography use is ‘causally’ related to young people having a higher rate of delay discounting. This means pornography users are less able to delay immediate gratification for a more valuable reward later, such as exam success. 

A paper called Early Adolescents Boys’ Exposure to Internet Pornography: Relationships to pubertal timing, sensation seeking and academic attainment concluded that “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.”

Colleges and universities across the UK and elsewhere are reporting high drop-out rates.

The reward foundation WillpowerWhat are other strands of this decline? Psychologist Roy Baumeister in his book Willpower says that most major problems, personal and social, centre on a failure of self-control. In what became one of the most cited papers in social science literature, Baumeister discovered that willpower actually operates like a muscle: it can be strengthened with practice and fatigued by overuse.

Willpower is fuelled by glucose, and it can be bolstered simply by replenishing the brain’s store of fuel. That’s why eating healthy food and sleeping a good 8 hours a night — and especially failing to do either of those—have such dramatic effects on self-control (and why dieters have such a hard time resisting temptation).

Stanford University professor Philip Zimbardo explains ‘arousal addiction’ and declining academic achievements in this talk, The Demise of Guys?

In this section The Reward Foundation looks at learning from several different angles.

Memory and Learning

Sexual conditioning

Internet Pornography and Early Sexual Debut


Internet Addiction

We also provide a range of Resources to support your understanding of these issues.

The Reward Foundation does not offer therapy.