A new study provides evidence that people focused on the present who do not like to postpone things are more prone to excessive sexual behaviors (hypersexuality) and problematic pornography use. The findings have been published in Frontiers in Psychology.
Between 3% and 10% of people are prone to excessive and out-of-control sexual behaviors. This is known as hypersexuality. It is much more common in men than in women. Such behaviors are included in the International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems (ICD-11) under the name compulsive sexual behavior disorder.
Problematic pornography use is usually considered to be a possible manifestation of hypersexuality. It is defined as a feeling of loss of control over the use of pornography and its persistent use despite adverse outcomes. These adverse outcomes include neglecting obligations towards friends, family or workplace, or impairments in romantic relationships.
The authors of the new study wanted to explore whether problematic pornography use might really be a manifestation of hypersexuality. They noted that mood modification is often listed as a core element in both of these types of problematic behaviors and hypothesize that exploring the role of time perspective in them might shed additional light on the nature of these disorders. Time perspective is the notion of whether people typically focus on the past, present, or future in their thoughts and how this shapes their behaviors.
The Past Positive Time Perspective involves looking back on the past in a positive, nostalgic way, while the Past Negative Time Perspective involves remembering the past in a negative or unsatisfied way. The Present Hedonistic Time Perspective involves living in the moment and seeking pleasure, while the Present Fatalistic Time Perspective involves feeling helpless and resigned about the future. The Future Time Perspective involves being future-oriented and goal-oriented.
For their study, the researchers surveyed two samples. One sample consisted of 554 and the other of 453 respondents. Around 50% of both samples were women. Average age of study participants was around 27 years.
Participants completed assessments of time perspective (the Zimbardo Time Perspective Inventory), hypersexual behavior (the Hypersexual Behavior Inventory, short version), and problematic pornography use (the Problematic Pornography Consumption Scale). The researchers created and tested statistical models describing relations between studied psychological factors.
Results showed that men and women had similar associations between different time perspectives, hypersexuality and problematic pornography use. More pronounced future time perspective was associated with lower occurrences of hypersexuality. Persons scoring higher on the present hedonistic time perspective had higher scores on hypersexuality. Present fatalistic time perspective was not associated with either hypersexuality or problematic pornography use. Relationships between the remaining two aspects of time perspective and hypersexuality were not consistent in the two samples the researchers used.
“The present study demonstrates minor differences between the two out-of-control sexual behaviors, suggesting that hypersexuality might more strongly resemble other addictive behaviors (e.g., regarding the impulsive feature of them) than problematic pornography use. Problematic pornography use had a similar structure of relations with time perspective with the difference that it was not associated with the future time perspective in one of the two samples,” the researchers concluded.
The study sheds light on the nature of the two studied types of problematic sexual behavior. However, it also has limitations that need to be taken into account. Notably, the study design does not allow for any cause-and-effect conclusions. Additionally, the study was conducted on samples that were not representative of the population, thus limiting the generalizability of the findings.
The study, “Present hedonism and future time perspectives predicting hypersexuality and problematic pornography use”, was authored by Mónika Koós, Gábor Orosz, Zsolt Demetrovics, and Beáta Bothe.