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Porn is Associated with Poorer Relationship Quality, According to Analysis of 30 National Surveys

Researchers found that more frequent pornography use was almost never associated with better relationship quality, at least on average.

By September 24, 2021No Comments

Decades of studies from respected academic institutions, have demonstrated significant impacts of porn consumption for individuals, relationships, and society. "What’s the Research" aims to shed light on the expanding field of academic resources that showcase porn’s harms in a variety of ways. Below are selected excerpts from published studies on this issue.

The full study can be accessed here.

Pornography and Relationship Quality: Establishing the Dominant Pattern by Examining Pornography Use and 31 Measures of Relationship Quality in 30 National Surveys

Authors: Samuel L. Perry
Published: May 2020

Peer-Reviewed Journal: Archives of Sexual Behavior

Abstract

Numerous studies have examined the association between pornography use and various measures of relationship quality.

Yet scholars have also pointed out the limitations of many such studies, including inconsistent findings for men and women, non-representative samples, and negatively biased measures that could result in misleading findings. The purpose of this study was to establish a dominant pattern in the association between pornography use and relationship quality in a way that mitigated these issues.

Data were taken from 30 nationally representative surveys, which together included 31 measures of relationship quality: 1973-2018 General Social Surveys (1 repeated measure); 2006 Portraits of American Life Study (13 measures); 2012 New Family Structures Study (12 measures); and 2014 Relationships in America Survey (5 measures).

This allowed for 57 independent tests examining the association between pornography use and relationship outcomes for married Americans and 29 independent tests for unmarried Americans. Along with bivariate associations, full regression models were estimated with sociodemographic controls and interaction terms for gender.

For married and unmarried Americans alike, pornography use was either unassociated or negatively associated with nearly all relationship outcomes. Significant associations were mostly small in magnitude. Conversely, except for one unclear exception, pornography use was never positively associated with relationship quality.

Associations were only occasionally moderated by gender, but in inconsistent directions.

While this study makes no claims about causality, findings clearly affirmed that, in instances where viewing pornography is associated with relationship quality at all, it is nearly always a signal of poorer relationship quality, for men and women.

Background

Drawing on data from 30 nationally representative surveys together including 31 measures of relationship quality, this study conducted 29 independent tests of the association between pornography use and various relationship outcomes for unmarried Americans and 57 tests for married Americans.

Associations were tested at the bivariate level and with sociodemographic controls, thus accounting for potential spuriousness between pornography use and a variety of relationship outcomes.

Methods

Analyses for the current study were all based on data from representative samples of married and unmarried American men and women…. Each of the surveys included measures that can be used to better understand the experiences of men and women in their committed romantic relationships. Questions were asked of both married and unmarried participants regarding their current relationship.

Results

Roughly 52% of the tested associations were statistically significant and pointed to a negative outcome. In other words, in 52% of the associations for unmarried Americans, those who viewed pornography more frequently reported poorer relationship quality by various measures.

The other 48% of associations were nonsignificant, and 0% were situations in which pornography use was associated with a positive relationship outcome….

[The] dominant trend seems to be that pornography use in the general population—either at all or in higher frequencies—is either unassociated with romantic relationship quality or is weakly associated with poorer relationship quality.

This was true for married and unmarried Americans alike as well as for men and women. Conversely, more frequent pornography use was almost never associated with better relationship quality, at least on average.

The full study can be accessed here.

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