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Pulling for pleasure? Erotic approach-bias associated with porn use, not problems

Kahveci, Sercan; van Bockstaele, Bram; Blechert, Jens; Wiers, Reinout W.

Background and Objectives: Addictive behaviors are gaining recognition in the clinical community, leading to more attention for the effects of problematic porn use. As many addictive behaviors are characterized by automatically activated approach-tendencies for disorder-relevant stimuli, we tested whether such tendencies are also present for erotic images and whether these are related to problematic porn use.

Methods: Measuring approach-bias for erotic photographs, sixty-two healthy heterosexual and bisexual men completed both a relevant-feature and an irrelevant-feature approach-avoidance task (AAT). Half of participants operated a joystick as response device, the other half a keyboard. We recorded participants’ number of weekly porn-viewing sessions and symptoms of problematic porn use.

Results: The irrelevant-feature AAT produced unreliable results and was not analyzed further. In the relevant-feature AAT, participants had an overall approach-bias towards erotic stimuli. Porn use frequency, but not problematic porn use, was associated with with greater erotic approach-bias. This relationship was stronger when measured with a joystick than with a keyboard.

Limitations: Our design did not allow to test the causal direction of the relationship between porn use and approach-bias, and our results cannot be generalized to women, non-heterosexual men, and clinical populations.

Conclusions: Similar to other addictive behaviors and substances, we found a positive relation between porn use and approach-bias. Future studies using the relevant-feature AAT will likely benefit from using the joystick rather than the keyboard.

Sercan Kahveci was supported by the Doctoral College "Imaging the Mind" (FWF; W1233-B).
Embargoed Access

Files are currently under embargo but will be publicly accessible after October 14, 2022.

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