Certain facets of traditional masculine ideology are related to men’s problematic pornography use

Some beliefs about male gender norms appear to be related to problematic pornography use, according to new research published in the journal Sex Roles.

“Pornography viewing is one of the most common activities in the United States. There are increasing reports of problematic effects associated with its use. However, we know relatively little about what factors that lead to the problems,” said Nicholas C. Borgogna, the corresponding author of the study and a doctoral candidate in at the University of South Alabama.

The researchers surveyed 310 men and 469 women in the United States regarding their pornography use and beliefs about male gender norms.

Greater endorsement of traditional masculinity ideology in general was unrelated to problematic pornography use. But when researchers broke traditional masculinity down into its subcomponents, they found that particular beliefs about masculinity were associated with some problems.

“Certain dimensions of traditional masculinity ideology (specifically: dominance, heterosexist views, restrictive emotionality, and avoidance of femininity ideologies) are related to men’s problematic pornography use. To a lesser extent, women who hold traditional conceptualizations of men report distal (but significant) problems associated with their pornography use too,” Borgogna told PsyPost.

For example, participants who believed that men should be dominant compared to women were more likely to agree with statements such as “Using pornography has created significant problems in my personal relationships with other people, in social situations, at work or in other important aspects of my life” and “I often think about pornography.”

The belief that men should avoid displaying any feminine thoughts or behaviors was also associated with difficulties controlling pornography usage. Men’s negative attitudes toward sexual minorities and belief that emotion should be restricted, on the other hand, were associated with the use of pornography to avoid negative emotions.

The study — like all research — includes some limitations.

“The findings are cross-sectional, as is a majority of the research on problematic pornography viewing. Longitudinal research is a essential to better understand these relationships,” Borgogna said.

“Fortunately, we just completed the third-wave of a multi-year longitudinal study assessing predictors of problematic pornography viewing in a large community sample. We hope to have the findings published in the upcoming year.”

“We are currently working with professionals from a variety of institutions across the country. We would love to collaborate more! If you are interested in working together on projects related to mental health, gender roles, problematic pornography viewing, and/or connections between mental health and sexuality more broadly, please email me at [email protected]

The study, “How Does Traditional Masculinity Relate to Men and Women’s Problematic Pornography Viewing?” was authored by Nicholas C. Borgogna, Ryon C. McDermott, Brandon R. Browning, Jameson D. Beach, and Stephen L. Aita.