A Love That Doesn't Last: Pornography Consumption and Weakened Commitment to One's Romantic Partner (2012) - Abstained from porn for 3 weeks

Printer-friendly version

COMMENTS: The first study to have subjects abstain from porn use (only 3 weeks). Comparing the two groups, those who continued using pornography reported lower levels of commitment than control participants. What might have occurred if they abstained for 3 months instead of 3 weeks?

Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology: Vol. 31, No. 4, pp. 410-438.


Nathaniel M. Lambert, Sesen Negash, Tyler F. Stillman, Spencer B. Olmstead, and Frank D. Fincham (2012).

Address correspondence to Nathaniel M. Lambert, Brigham Young University, 2065 JFSB, Provo, Utah 84604. E-mail: natemlambert@gmail.com


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.

The intervention proved effective at reducing or eliminating pornography consumption for the duration of the three-week study, yet did not deter control participants from continuing their consumption. Our hypothesis was supported as participants in the pornography consumption condition reported a substantial reduction in commitment compared to participants in the abstain from pornography condition.

Also, the effect of continued pornography consumption on commitment cannot be explained by a difference in the depletion of self-regulatory resources from exercising greater self-control, as participants in both conditions abstained from something pleasurable (i.e., pornography or a favorite food).

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.