WASHINGTON — Religious people are less likely than nonreligious people to report using pornography, but those who do use it are more likely to say they are addicted to porn, a new study finds.
"There are a lot of people out there [who] identify themselves as porn addicts," Joshua Grubbs, a psychologist at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, said Aug. 7 here at the annual meeting of the American Psychological Association.
What would cause someone to identify as a porn addict? "Religion comes to mind," Grubbs said. If you go on Amazon.com and search for books on "pornography addiction," 1,900 results come up, and almost half of these are in the "religion and spirituality" category, he said. (The remainder are in the psychology and self-help sections, he said.) [Top 10 Controversial Psychiatric Disorders]
Porn addiction is poorly defined, and has no official diagnosis. (Porn itself is hard to define, but as U.S. Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart said in Jacobellis v. Ohio (1964), "I'll know it when I see it.")
Grubbs and his colleagues performed two studies to investigate whether being religious is related to perceptions of porn addiction.
The first study involved young college students from three different U.S. universities, and the second study involved older adults. The researchers asked participants whether they watched porn and, if they did, whether they considered themselves addicted.
They also measured how religious the participants were, the extent to which they could control their use of porn, to what lengths they would go to access pornography and whether they disapprove of porn morally.
In both studies, they found that religious individuals were less likely than nonreligious individuals to report using porn. Religious people who do use porn, however, are exposed to about the same amount as nonreligious people are, the researchers said.
Religious people were more likely than nonreligious people to disapprove of porn on moral grounds, and were also more likely to perceive their use as an addiction.
"Despite the fact that religious people feel more addicted to porn, they're not using it more," Grubbs said. They probably just feel more addicted because they disapprove of it, he said.
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