Bonnie Young and Brian Willoughby, School of Family Life
Pornography use is known to be disruptive in relationships by creating unrealistic expectations for intimacy and partner image (Daneback, Træen, &Mansson, 2009; Yucel & Gassanov, 2009). This is significant because as emerging adults are searching for potential marriage partners, dating practices may be negatively influenced by attitudes and practices rooted in pornography exposure. By understanding the relationships between dating and pornography viewing behaviors, we will be able to understand the best way to help individuals struggling to date because of pornography related behaviors and more generally how pornography is generally influencing the dating culture among young adults. This will lead us to better understand how to create healthy dating practices, encourage communication about pornography in relationships, and what resources individuals feel they need to be supported in recovering from pornography viewing habits and addictions.
This study will focus on the effects of pornography use on dating attitudes and behaviors among young adults. More specifically, this study will explore patterns between pornography use and dating practices, partner communication, partner desirability, attitudes about sexual behaviors, self-esteem, and recovery behaviors. From this study, I hope to better understand both the magnitude and the reasons behind the growing trend of pornography use among emerging adults. As understanding increases about the patterns and attitudes of the pornography-using population, I hope to better understand how to help these individuals seek recovery and healthy relationship practices. I anticipate that those who currently view pornography will date less, have lower selfesteem, communicate less frequently and openly with romantic partners/ friends/ leaders/ family, and will have more permissive ideas about sexuality when compared to non-viewers. I also hypothesize that those who currently view pornography will have struggled in their attempts to overcome their habit/ addiction, and that they will feel they have inadequate resources for overcoming their addiction.
For the international sample, the subject will be contacted through the online crowdsourcing site Amazon Mechanical Turk. First contact will happen through the site’s HIT page. Recruitment will happen by “Turks” finding the survey via Amazon’s search page. This page will include a two sentence description of the study as is common on the Turk’s website which will read as follows: “An online survey studying pornography use and dating patterns among young adults. English speakers only.” Once participants click on the link they will be presented with the informed consent form. After participants have read the informed consent statement they will take an approximately 20 minute Online survey through Amazon Mechanical Turk survey software. Subject will answer a series of questions regarding their relationship status and practices, background and current pornography behaviors and attitudes (see Appendix for a complete list of survey items). Once the survey is completed, the participants will be thanked and given contact information for the PI in case they have any questions or concerns about the study or use of the data. Once data collection is complete, data from the survey will be converted to an SPSS data file for data analysis.
For the BYU pilot, professors at BYU in the School of Family Life, History, Religion, and Political Science departments will be contacted via email letters if they can include their classes in the Online survey. Students choosing to participate will follow the link to a Qualtrics survey where they give consent and take the survey. At the end of the survey, students wishing to enter the drawings for the gift certificates have the option to anonymously submit their email addresses. Students in classes where extra credit is offered will have the principle investigator contact their professors upon completion of the survey.
In our international sample, 47.8 % were male and 51.9% were female. Fifty three percent were white, 33.1% were Asian, 6.3% were Black, and 4.5% were Latino. Nineteen percent were protestant, 24.5% were Hindu, 15.9% were Catholic, and 27.9% reported “none” as their religion. After we cleaned the data, we found that 11.4% of our international sample had terminated a relationship solely because of pornography use. In response to the item “I feel uncomfortable around the opposite gender after I use pornography,” 13.2% agreed, 5.3% strongly agreed, and 2.6% very strongly agreed. In response to the item “I feel unworthy to go on dates because of my pornography use,” 8.8% agreed, 4.2% strongly agreed, and 2.8% very strongly agreed. In response to the item “I fear that my relationship will end if I disclose my porn use to my partner,” 9.8% agreed, 5.9% strongly agreed, and 2.5% very strongly agreed.
From our BYU sample, in which 25.1% were male and 74.6% were female, 93.9% were white, and 99% were LDS, we found an interesting contrast to the international sample. Similarly, a very small number had ended relationships solely because of pornography use (4%), but a similar percentage had ended a relationship partially because of pornography use (11.3%). In contrast to the international sample where 13.2% agreed, 5.3% strongly agreed, and 2.6% very strongly agreed that they felt uncomfortable around the opposite gender after they use pornography, 30.7% of the BYU sample agreed, 12.6% strongly agreed, and 8.5% very strongly agree. Twenty-six percent agreed, 13.1% strongly agreed, and 10.6% very strongly agreed that they feel unworthy to go on dates because of my pornography use. In response to the item “I fear that my relationship will end if I disclose my porn use to my partner,” 25.4% of the BYU sample agreed, 9.1% strongly agreed, 4.6% very strongly agreed.
It is clear from the contrast between the international and BYU samples that there is a differing level of anxiety and worry relating to pornography use and relationships between highly religious and semi-religious populations. While further statistical analyses will give more insight into why these differences exist, it is important to understand and recognize that attitudes towards pornography and relationships. The next step is to see if these anxieties and attitudes towards dating are helping singles to form healthy relationships or if they are hindering the formation of relationships or perpetuating pornography use.
It is apparent from the results that there is a difference in attitudes towards pornography and relationships between highly religious and international samples. These attitudes impact dating patterns and relationships.