Oh, Those Mr. Rights and Moral Preachers: Addiction to pornography deeply intertwined with religious and moral beliefs

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New York–Moral or religious beliefs may lead some people to believe they are addicted to pornography even when their porn use is low or average, according to a new study.

“Self-reported addiction to pornography is probably deeply intertwined with religious and moral beliefs for some people,” said study lead researcher Joshua B Grubbs, Assistant Professor at Bowling Green State University in the US.

“When people morally disapprove of pornography but still use it anyway, they are more likely to report that pornography is interfering with their lives,” Grubbs added.

In two studies with more than 3,500 participants, the researchers found that moral or religious beliefs may be a central contributing factor to distress over porn use.

Such a view may complicate an accurate diagnosis of compulsive sexual behaviour disorder (CSBD), which includes porn addiction and detrimental sexual behaviours, such as patronising prostitutes, said the study published in the Journal of Abnormal Psychology.

In one experiment, 2,200 online participants who were selected to be representative of the US population, along with 467 undergraduate students were surveyed about their porn use and their religious and moral beliefs.

People who viewed pornography and believed pornography is morally wrong were more likely to report that they were addicted to porn than those who didn’t find porn use to be morally objectionable.

Participants who reported they were religious or who regularly attended religious services were more likely to believe they were addicted to porn, even if their porn use was the same as less religious participants who didn’t believe their porn use was a problem.

In another online experiment, 850 US adults who used porn were surveyed about their porn use and religious beliefs and then were invited to complete follow-up surveys every four months for a year.

The findings were similar, with more religious participants reporting an addiction to pornography.

These feelings tracked together over time: Increases in feelings of moral disapproval of pornography corresponded to increases in feelings of addiction to pornography.

“We are not suggesting that people need to change their moral or religious beliefs, but it’s not helpful for someone with a low or normal amount of porn use to be convinced that they have an addiction because they feel bad about it,” Grubbs said.

“However, if someone wants to reduce their porn use because it causes distress, then therapists should work with them in a non-judgmental way that doesn’t induce shame,” Grubbs added. (IANS)

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