Cybersex addiction: Experienced sexual arousal when watching pornography and not real-life sexual contacts makes the difference (2013)

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COMMENTS:  Study found cue-induced cravings, similar to drug addicts, predicted porn addiction. Contrary to popular belief, unsatisfying sexual life had no correlation to porn addiction. Supporting the gratification hypothesis means addiction-like behaviors in response to ones chosen addiction.


Laier, C., Pawlikowski, M., Pekal, J., Schulte, F. P., & Brand, M. (2013). 

Journal of Behavioral Addictions.

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Abstract

Background and aims

Cybersex addiction is discussed controversially, while empirical evidence is widely missing. With respect to its mechanisms of development and maintenance Brand et al. (2011) assume that reinforcement due to cybersex should lead to the development of cue-reactivity and craving explaining recurrent cybersex use in the face of growing but neglected negative consequences. To support this hypothesis, two experimental studies were conducted.

Methods

In a cue-reactivity paradigm 100 pornographic cues were presented to participants and indicators of sexual arousal and craving were assessed. The first study aimed at identifying predictors of cybersex addiction in a freely recruiting sample of 171 heterosexual males. The aim of the second study was to verify the findings of the first study by comparing healthy (n=25) and problematic (n=25) cybersex users.

Results

The results show that indicators of sexual arousal and craving to Internet pornographic cues predicted tendencies towards cybersex in the first study. Moreover, it was shown that problematic cybersex users report greater sexual arousal and craving reactions resulting from pornographic cue presentation. In both studies, the number and the quality with real-life sexual contacts were not associated to cybersex addiction.

Discussion

The results support the gratification hypothesis, which assumes reinforcement, learning mechanisms, and craving to be relevant processes in the development and maintenance of cybersex addiction. Poor or unsatisfying sexual reallife contacts cannot sufficiently explain cybersex addiction.

Conclusion

Positive reinforcement in terms of gratification plays a major role in cybersex addiction.

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