When is Online Pornography Viewing Problematic Among College Males? Examining the Moderating Role of Experiential Avoidance

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Sexual Addiction & Compulsivity



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Internet pornography viewing is common among college-aged males, but it is unclear whether and for whom such viewing is problematic. One potential process that may account for whether viewing is problematic is experiential avoidance: seeking to reduce the form, frequency, or situational sensitivity of private experiences even when doing so causes behavioral harm. The current study examined the relationship of Internet pornography viewing and experiential avoidance to a range of psychosocial problems (depression, anxiety, stress, social functioning, and problems related to viewing) through a cross-sectional online survey conducted with a non-clinical sample of 157 undergraduate college males. Results indicated that frequency of viewing was significantly related to each psychosocial variable, such that more viewing was related to greater problems. Furthermore, experiential avoidance moderated the relationship between viewing and two psychosocial variables, such that viewing predicted anxiety and problems related to viewing only among those participants with clinical levels of experiential avoidance. These results are discussed in the context of research on experiential avoidance and treatment approaches that target this process.

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