A new study has revealed Religious people are less likely than non-religious people to report using pornography, but tellingly those who do use it are more likely to claim they are addicted to it.
This may not be an especially new idea but it is the first study I have come across, specifically in recent years where there has been consistent and what seems to be increasingly anti-porn pressure coming from religion-based groups or individuals.
Porn addiction is, and has always been, notoriously poorly defined, and has no official diagnosis. Even porn itself is hard to define, with U.S. Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart saying “I’ll know it when I see it” during the 1964 trial – Jacobellis v. Ohio. As reported here last year, the very existence of porn addiction is viewed with skepticism by psychologists.
“There are a lot of people out there [who] identify themselves as porn addicts,” Joshua Grubbs, a psychologist at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, said at the annual meeting of the American Psychological Association.
Grubbs and his colleagues performed two studies to investigate whether being religious is related to perceptions of porn addiction.
The first study involved young college students from three different U.S. universities, and the second study involved older adults. The researchers asked participants whether they watched porn and, if they did, whether they considered themselves to be addicted to it.
They also measured how religious the participants were, the extent to which they could control their use of porn, to what lengths they would go to access pornography and whether they disapprove of porn morally.
In both studies, they found that religious individuals were less likely than nonreligious individuals to report using porn. Religious people who do use porn, however, are exposed to about the same amount as nonreligious people are, the researchers said.
Religious people were more likely than nonreligious people to disapprove of porn on moral grounds, and were also more likely to perceive their use as an addiction.
“Despite the fact that religious people feel more addicted to porn, they’re not using it more,” Grubbs said. They probably just feel more addicted because they disapprove of it, he said.
In fact they may be using it far less than non-religious people but because those instances where they turn to porn are at such odds with years and years of religious and moral teachings about a specific view of what is acceptable they may well feel an overwhelming sense of shame or guilt.
Religious people could be using the term addiction as a get out of jail for free card and an excuse that helps shield them from judgment in their community.