The Role of Internet Pornography Use and Cyber Infidelity in the Associations between Personality, Attachment, and Couple and Sexual Satisfaction (2017)

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Although adults in romantic relationships currently show more openness to online sexual behaviors [1], these behaviors can nevertheless increase couple conflicts and instability [2]. In the current study, we assess the mediating role of Internet pornography use and cyber infidelity in the relationship between 1) personality and attachment, and 2) couple and sexual satisfaction. A total of 779 participants in couple relationships (average age = 29.9 years) completed a series of online questionnaires. According to their responses, 65% of participants visited an adult site at least once during the six months preceding the study, while 16.3% did so multiple times per week. Path model results showed that Internet pornography use and cyber infidelity were sequential mediators between, on the one hand, personality and attachment, and on the other hand, couple and sexual satisfaction. The discussion highlights the importance of properly documenting the correlates of online sexual behavior to better understand new couple realities and dynamics.

Cite this paper - Ferron, A. , Lussier, Y. , Sabourin, S. and Brassard, A. (2017) The Role of Internet Pornography Use and Cyber Infidelity in the Associations between Personality, Attachment, and Couple and Sexual Satisfaction. Social Networking, 6, 1-18. doi: 10.4236/sn.2017.61001.


Our results indicated that pornography use is associated with couple and sexual difficulties through increased cyber infidelity. These original findings confirm the existence of “modern” forms of infidelity. While previous studies have suggested that these virtual relationships do not represent a “real” physical transgression of couple norms or a betrayal of one’s partner [55], our empirical data is evidence to the contrary.

Cyber infidelity is a key link in the complex causal chain explaining variations in relationship quality. While many researchers have already shown that pornography use increases the probability of in-person extradyadic sex [5] [46] [47], cyber infidelity is another possible consequence. Future studies should explore the nature of the relationship between cyber infidelity and in-person infidelity These results confirm previous research findings showing that neuroticism is strongly related to couple dissatisfaction [26] [74] [75]. However, contrary

to Egan and Parmer [28], our results indicate that low neuroticism is related to pornography use. In other words, our study suggests that calm and laid-back individuals tend to watch more pornography

Low conscientiousness was associated with pornography use, which also supports findings by Egan and Parmer. However, caution should be exercised when comparing results since the present study was not limited to individuals who were dependent on pornography. Only 2.3% of participants used pornography every day.

Finally, openness was positively related to pornography use. These results support findings by Emmers-Sommer et al. [30], who found that pornography users were less conservative when it came to sexual attitudes and behaviors, and Heaven et al. [29], who found that active imagination was associated with the desire to use pornography

In the present study, our results suggested that both mediators—cyber infidelity and pornography use—can reflect a lack of commitment in the relationship, as well as a desire to seek out alternative relationships, both of which are common in avoidant individuals

Pornography use was negatively related to sexual satisfaction for men, but positively for women. This difference must be emphasized. Other studies have also shown that women’s use of pornography may be beneficial to their sexual satisfaction [1] [11]. These results suggest that women satisfy their sexual desires and fantasies through pornography.

In men, pornography use is associated with higher sexual desire, stimulation, and gratification. However, these effects may lead to decreased sexual desire their partner and decreased sexual satisfaction within the couple. As the pornography industry continues to grow, clinicians report that an increasing number of individuals are seeking out help to deal with sexual and relational difficulties associated with pornography use [5] [50] [83]. In addition, relationship issues associated with cyber infidelity seem to be on the rise [53].

Couples need to be able to define infidelity before they can establish clear rules about Internet use [49]. Therapists need to consider the importance of the Internet in romantic relationships, and should be aware of the possible behaviors that might predict infidelity, such as pornography use [84]. Online behaviors should be assessed on a continuum, ranging from simple online entertainment, to online dating, to cyber addiction [53]. An adequate assessment tool, such as the one developed by Rosenberg and Krauss [25], might help identify the various motivations behind individuals’ pornography use (to learn different sexual positions, to decrease anxiety, to cope with sexual difficulties, to relieve boredom, to have fun, etc.). By gaining a fuller understanding of why individuals use Internet pornography, cyber infidelity might be better understood. Increased efforts should be made to develop appropriate treatments for cyber sexual behaviors and thus avoid couple dissatisfaction.




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