Critique of “Cyberpornography: Time Use, Perceived Addiction, Sexual Functioning, and Sexual Satisfaction” (2016)

COMMENTS: This study reported two seemingly contradictory findings in regard to porn use:

  1. More time spent viewing porn correlated with lower sexual satisfaction
  2. More time spent viewing porn correlated with less sexual dysfunction

Wouldn’t it make sense for poorer sexual satisfaction to always be related to more sexual dysfunction? How could more porn use be related to both less sexual satisfaction and less sexual dysfunction?

The probable answer: This study used the ASEX to measure sexual function, and not the standard IIEF. The ASEX doesn’t distinguish between sexual functioning during masturbation (typically to digital porn) and partnered sex, while the IIEF is only for sexually active subjects. This means that many of the subjects were rating the quality of their orgasms, arousal and erections while masturbating to porn – not while having sex. In fact, the demographics suggest a good many were answering as if they were masturbating to porn:

  • The average age was 25
  • 90% of the men regularly used porn
  • Only 35% of the subjects were cohabiting (33% were single; 30% were “dating”)

Internet porn users often experience greater sexual arousal and better erections while using porn. Only very rarely do men who develop porn-induced ED lose sexual function during masturbation sessions with digital porn (although amazingly enough, a few do become that dysfunctional). Most users don’t notice their declining sexual dysfunction due to porn use if they are self-pleasuring because most manage to keep clicking to something hotter or more extreme until they can “get the job done.”

It is with partners that digital porn users typically notice their porn-related sexual dysfunctions, and this happens because they have conditioned their sexual response to screens, fetishes, constant seeking and searching, and endless novelty. Not to partnered sex. The ASEX test (that this research team used) won’t pick up partnered-sex dysfunctions – unless the researchers tell them to apply it only to partnered sex. This research team didn’t do that in this study. (We know because we corresponded with an author.)

This also explains the apparent anomaly, namely that these subjects report low “sexual satisfaction” – when also given a questionnaire that did specify partnered sexual activities. Many porn users today can’t have successful sex with partners, or orgasm with partners, or they report feeling “numb dick” with partners – both oral and intercourse (but have no such problems when only using digital porn). Multiple studies link porn use to sexual problems and lower sexual satisfaction. So far 3 of these studies demonstrate porn use is causing sexual dysfunction – as participants eliminated porn use and healed chronic sexual dysfunctions.


Findings relevant to the Grubbs CPUI

This study also found that porn addiction, as measured by the Grubbs’s CPUI, was very strongly related to the amount of porn viewed. Several lay articles about the Joshua Grubbs studies (“perceived addiction studies”) have claimed that the amount of porn use was unrelated to the scores on on the CPUI. This and other claims surrounding the perceived addiction studies have been debunked by this extensive critique.

A little background. In 2010 Grubbs created a questionnaire to assess porn addiction: the CPUI. In 2013 Grubbs published a study claiming that his actual porn addiction questionnaire had been magically transformed into a “perceived porn addiction” questionnaire (much more here). There is no such as a “perceived addiction” test – for any addiction, including porn addiction, and his test was never validated as such. Anyhow, questions 1-6 of the CPUI-9 assess the signs and symptoms common to all addictions, while questions 7-9 (Emotional Distress) assess guilt, shame and remorse. As a result, “actual porn addiction” closely aligns with questions 1-6 (Compulsivity & Access Efforts).


  1. I believe I am addicted to Internet pornography.
  2. I feel unable to stop my use of online pornography.
  3. Even when I do not want to view pornography online, I feel drawn to it

Access Efforts:

  1. At times, I try to arrange my schedule so that I will be able to be alone in order to view pornography.
  2. I have refused to go out with friends or attend certain social functions to have the opportunity to view pornography.
  3. I have put off important priorities to view pornography.

Emotional Distress:

  1. I feel ashamed after viewing pornography online.
  2. I feel depressed after viewing pornography online.
  3. I feel sick after viewing pornography online.

The current study found that the amount of porn used was robustly related to questions 1-6, yet not at all related to questions 7-9. This means that the amount of porn used is a very strong factor in the development of a porn addiction. On the other hand, shame and guilt were not associated with porn use, and have nothing to do with porn addiction. In short “perceived addiction” as a concept is unsupported when one looks closely.


Cyberpsychol Behav Soc Netw. 2016 Nov;19(11):649-655.

Blais-Lecours S1, Vaillancourt-Morel MP1, Sabourin S1, Godbout N2.


Using pornography through the Internet is now a common activity even if associated sexual outcomes, including sexual satisfaction, are highly variable. The present study tested a two-step sequential mediation model whereby cyberpornography time use is related to sexual satisfaction through the association with, in a first step, perceived addiction to cyberpornography (i.e., perceived compulsivity, effort to access, and distress toward pornography) and with, in a second step, sexual functioning problems (i.e., sexual dysfunction, compulsion, and avoidance). These differential associations were also examined across gender using model invariance across men and women. A sample of 832 adults from the community completed self-report online questionnaires. Results indicated that 51 percent of women and 90 percent of men reported viewing pornography through the Internet. Path analyses showed indirect complex associations in which cyberpornography time use is associated with sexual dissatisfaction through perceived addiction and sexual functioning problems. These patterns of associations held for both men and women.


First, even when controlling for perceived addiction to cyberpornography and overall sexual functioning, cyberpornography use remained directly associated with sexual dissatisfaction. Even though this negative direct association was of small magnitude, time spent viewing cyberpornography seems to be a robust predictor of lower sexual satisfaction.

KEYWORDS: addiction; cyberpornography; gender; sexual functioning; sexual satisfaction

PMID: 27831753

DOI: 10.1089/cyber.2016.0364

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