Study: 1 in 8 Young Adults Say Watching Porn is a Form of Cheating

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When it comes to infidelity, which behaviors count and which ones don’t? It turns out that different people answer this question in very different ways.. That said, there are some things that people seem to agree on more than others.

At least for those in monogamous relationships, people largely agree that having sexual intercourse with someone else is a form of cheating. The same goes for taking a shower with another person or sending them naked photos. But what about just watching porn by yourself? Do people typically categorize that as a form of infidelity? A recent study published in the Archives of Sexual Behavior suggests that some do.

As part of this study, researchers surveyed 392 American college student about their sexual attitudes and personalities. Specifically, participants were asked to rate their agreement with the following two items (note that responses to these items were averaged together):

“I would consider my viewing of sexually-explicit material (i.e.,”porn”) by myself to be cheating on my romantic partner.”

“I would consider my romantic partner’s viewing of sexually-explicit material (i.e.,”porn”) by him- or herself to be cheating on me.”

So how did people respond? The vast majority (73%) did not consider watching porn to be a form of cheating; however, 14% were unsure and 13% said it definitely was cheating. In other words, about 1 in 8 college students in this study seemed to think that watching porn is a highly inappropriate behavior in relationships.

Who was most likely to consider porn to be a form of cheating? These traits were associated with the tendency to equate porn consumption with infidelity:

· Being single.

· Not being a porn consumer.

· Being less tolerant of infidelity.

· Having more negative attitudes toward porn.

· Being high in jealous tendencies.

· Being more religious.

· Being lower in self-esteem.

There were no differences based on gender or fears of being abandoned.

With that said, it’s important to note that we’re not dealing with a representative sample of Americans or college students more broadly. As a result, it’s possible that views on this matter might vary in larger and more diverse populations.

However, what all of this tells us is that, for the most part, American college students don’t seem to classify viewing pornography as a form of infidelity; however, about 1 in 8 of them do. Furthermore, it seems that there are certain types of people who are more inclined to think of porn use as cheating, particularly those who view porn negatively to begin with, those who hold more conservative beliefs generally, and those who are more insecure and prone to jealousy.

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To learn more about this research, see: Negy, C., Plaza, D., Reig-Ferrer, A., & Fernandez-Pascual, M. D. (2018). Is Viewing Sexually Explicit Material Cheating on Your Partner? A Comparison Between the United States and Spain. Archives of Sexual Behavior.

Image Credit: Photo by Charles 🇵🇭 on Unsplash

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