Journal of Sex & Marital Therapy, 00:1–16, 2013 Copyright © Taylor & Francis Group, LLC ISSN: 0092-623X print

/ 1521-0715 online DOI: 10.1080/0092623X.2012.710182

Dirty Habits? Online Pornography Use, Personality, Obsessionality, and Compulsivity
VINCENT EGAN and REENA PARMAR
Department of Psychology, University of Leicester, Leicester, UK

Internet pornography use can be compulsive, but evaluation of pathology underlying this is difficult to assess. The present study aimed to distinguish individual differences in personality and psychopathology that predict pornography consumption in an individual, and whether this reflected more general compulsive processes, assessing 226 male participants. Neuroticism, agreeableness, conscientiousness, and obsessional checking all significantly correlated with a latent measure of compulsive behavior upon which use of Internet pornography use also loaded. The authors suggest the greater use of pornography on the Internet may reflect a general vulnerability to compulsive problems related to basic disposition, and that problems associated with this behavior can be managed with generic clinical approaches to obsessional and compulsive disorders. Pornography is cheaper, more easily accessible, diverse, and popular than ever before (Ogas & Gaddam, 2011). Despite feminist and socially conservative concerns regarding the malign effects of pornography, the association between pornography consumption and holding abusive attitudes toward women is primarily seen in persons with more antisocial personalities (Ferguson & Hartley, 2009; McKee, 2007). Nevertheless, pornography can be problematic at a personal level, particularly for relationships (Manning, 2006). Bridges, Bergner, and Hesson-McInnis (2003) found some women were distressed by male partners who used pornography, perceiving this as a breach of intimacy, and facilitating estrangement (Zitzman & Butler, 2009), perhaps because men use pornography as an outlet when otherwise sexually unsatisfied; when women use pornography, it is seen as an adjunct to lovemaking, raising the quality of sex for both persons (Bridges & Morokoff,
Address correspondence to Vincent Egan, Department of Psychology, University of Leicester, 106 New Walk, Leicester, LE1 7EA, United Kingdom. E-mail: ve2@le.ac.uk 1

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2011). Some men are more likely than others are to develop problems associated with pornography use (Twohig, Crosby, & Cox, 2009). Men who are more preoccupied by pornography have unrealistic expectations of sex and sexual intercourse, and false comparison may contribute to female negative self-image, disrupting relationships (Daneback, Træen, & ˚ Mansson, 2009; Yucel & Gassanov, 2009). Overall, pornography use can lead to relationship or family problems, arrest for sexual offences, difficulties at work, financial problems, an overpreoccupation with sexuality, and a pressing need for the individual to better regulate their own behavior. Pornographic material is now predominantly distributed using Internetbased technology. The Internet is characterized by a “Triple-A- Engine” (Accessibility, Affordability, Anonymity; Cooper, 1998), and this applies to much content online. Search engines make almost any kind of pornographic content easily accessible, often free, and acquirable without the shame, embarrassment, or prosecution that was once often the case (Barak & Fisher, 2001; Barack & King, 2000; Cooper McLoughlin & Campbell, 2000; Cooper, Putnam, Planchon, & Boies, 1999). Some types of pornography and online sexual activity are clearly illegal (e.g., viewing sexually violent material, viewing indecent pictures of children, or seeking to groom children for sex over Internet chat rooms (Egan, Hoskinson, & Shewan, 2011). Henry, MandevilleNorden, Hayes, and Egan (2010) conducted a study of 600 men convicted of downloading indecent images of children and found that they fell into one of three clusters: antisocial , emotionally unstable, or psychometrically normal . The latter sometimes allude to being drawn to indecent material out of curiosity when idly surfing the Internet. This suggests that although persons with more deviant sexual preferences may find the medium of the Internet to be an effective way to indulge in their interests, others may be sidetracked into inappropriate or illicit content by more generically psychological factors such as curiosity or compulsivity. Compulsive sexuality can be seen as an uncontrollable addictive behavior, causing a significant impact on an individuals’ life given the negative consequences it evokes (Young, 2004). A person may ostensibly have his or her sexual needs met but find the experience unsatisfying, leading him or her to engage in further unrewarding or risky sexual activity (Gold & Heffner, 1998; Kingston & Firestone, 2008). Stack, Wasserman, and Kern (2004) found that Internet pornography users were 3.7 times more likely to pay for sexual intercourse than were persons with lower levels of pornography use. The majority of men referred to clinicians for excessive use of sexual resources on the Internet are married and heterosexual (Cooper et al., 2000). Such behavior is a commonly cited as a factor in decisions to separate and divorce (Manning, 2006). The five-factor model of personality comprises dimensions of neuroticism, extraversion, openness to experience, agreeableness, and conscientiousness (Costa & McCrae, 1992). The five-factor model is reliable, valid, and

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stable across cultures (Schmitt, Allik, McCrae, & Benet-Mart´ ınez, 2007) and relates to many aspects of antisocial behavior. Neuroticism, low agreeableness, and low conscientiousness are the main predictors of antisocial behavior, although openness to experience and extraversion sometimes differentiate offenders further (Egan, 2011). With regard to sexual behavior, imprisoned child molesters are higher in neuroticism and lower in extraversion and conscientiousness than are controls (Dennison, Stough, & Birgden, 2001); paraphilic men are likewise higher in neuroticism and lower in agreeableness and conscientiousness (Fagan et al., 1991). Greater pornography use correlates with higher anxiety, depression, impulsivity, and vulnerability to stress (neuroticism facets), lower scores on the extraversion facet of positive emotions, lower scores on the conscientiousness facet of self-discipline, and higher scores on the fantasy facet of openness to experience (Fagan et al., 1991). Obsessionality is associated with a variety of behavioral problems including sexual addictions (although terms such as addiction and compulsion to describe what some believe regard as craving is not without controversy; Foddy, 2011). Irrespective of terminology semantics, Gold and Heffner (1998) found some men more inclined to compulsive masturbation and frequent use of pornography. Egan, Kavanagh, and Blair (2005) measured obsessive-compulsivity and personality in convicted sexual offenders also assessed on the Sexual Offenders Assessment Package (used to evaluate social functioning in sexual offenders). Three factors of the Sexual Offenders Assessment Package (emotional distress, cognitions supporting sex with children, and concern for others) were found. Emotional distress correlated with higher neuroticism and lower extraversion, suggesting more distress in the introverted and emotionally unstable individuals, while higher obsessive-compulsivity was associated with greater numbers of child sexual abuse-related cognitions. Persons with compulsive sexuality also sometimes have comorbid behavioral and chemical cravings, compulsions, and addictions (Kuzma & Black, 2008). Psychological-behavioral addictions (gambling, technological, sexual) probably share a common genetic vulnerability with more obviously chemical addictions (e.g., alcoholism or drug addiction; Shaffer et al., 2004; Slutske et al., 2000). Addictions are characterized by cue salience, mood modification, tolerance, conflict, withdrawal symptoms, and relapse (Griffiths, 2000). Caplan (2002) suggested excessive Internet use was similar to other problematic behavioral dependencies and compulsions, and Sheldon and Howitt (2007) argued compulsively accessing pornography on the Internet is also an addiction. The medium of the Internet is inherently reinforcing; endlessly responsive dynamic content might mean an apparent addiction to pornography is as much a compulsive response to electronic feedback (Griffiths, 2012; Putnam, 2000). Heavier Internet users are lower in agreeableness, conscientiousness, and extraversion (Landers & Lounsbury, 2006), and often also high in neuroticism (Tsai et al., 2009). Excessive

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Internet use may thus share common factors with sexual compulsions and preoccupations. The present study examined constructs underlying greater use of Internet pornography, considering personality, excessive use of the Internet, greater sex preoccupation, and obsessionality as putative predictors. We expected to replicate noted associations noted between personality, obsessionality and sexual and Internet compulsions, and sought to integrate these elements into a single model, which has not been previously done. We also aimed to examine how these constructs functioned as a simple measurement model compared with a latent variable model in which all addiction-related constructs indicated a single underlying construct.

METHOD Design
The study used a descriptive, within-subjects correlational design using questionnaire methods to gather data. The independent variables measured were: sexual preoccupation, excessive Internet use, personality, and obsessionality. The dependent outcome variable was the amount of Internet pornography used.

Participants
The sample comprised 226 male participants. All were recruited online through the Internet via Facebook, psychological research websites, and sports forums. The mean age of participants was 23.59 years (range = 18 to 62; SD = 8.70). The majority of participants were between the ages of 18–25 years, skewing data to younger men, although some participants were substantially older, so age was root-transformed.

Materials
THE NEO-FIVE FACTOR INVENTORY-REVISED (NEO-FFI-R; MCCRAE & COSTA, 2004) The NEO-FFI-R was used to assess personality (McCrae & Costa, 1996). The scale comprises 60 items. This scale has good reliability and validity, and is widely used. THE MAUDSLEY OBSESSIVE-COMPULSIVE INVENTORY (MOCI; HODGSON & RACHMAN, 1977) The MOCI assesses four dimensions of obsessive-compulsive behavior; checking, cleaning, slowness, and doubting. The total score on the 30-item scale provides a general index of the construct. The measure has a good internal and test–retest reliability. We found reliabilities for slowness and doubting below 0.6, so excluded them from the study.

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THE INTERNET ADDICTION TEST (IAT; YOUNG, 2004) The IAT is a reliable and valid measure of addictive Internet use (Widyanto & McMurran, 2004). It comprises 20 items measuring mild, moderate, and severe level of Internet addiction on a 5-point Likert scale. The IAT’s scale anchors range from 1 (“Rarely”), to 5 (“Always”). The option 0 (“Does not apply”) is also provided. THE SEXUAL ADDICTION SCREENING TEST-REVISED (SAST-R; CARNES, GREEN, & CARNES, 2010) The SAST-R was used to measure sexual preoccupation. The 45-item test comprises eight subscales; Internet items (α = .57), men’s items (α = .47), women’s items (α = .47), homosexuality (α = .46), preoccupation (α = .57), loss of control (α = .66), relationship disturbance (α = .47), and affect disturbance (α = .61). While the overall reliability for the SAST-R is 0.80, individual subscale reliabilities are low, so in this study only the total SAST-R score was used. THE CYBER-PORNOGRAPHY USE INVENTORY (CPUI; GRUBBS, SESSOMS, WHEELER, & VOLK, 2010) The CPUI measures Internet pornography use. It is a 40-item scale with six subscales, including compulsivity, social use, isolation, interest, efforts, and guilt. Most questions use Likert responses ranging from strongly agree to strongly disagree or never to always. We tested the reliability of the subscales of the CPUI for reliability, finding alphas of 0.73 for compulsivity, and 0.76 for social use. Isolated and guilt subscales were dropped due to low internal reliability.

Procedure
An anonymous electronic questionnaire was presented online, no information being acquired enabling the identification of individuals from their responses. The study website covered participation, consent, questionnaire instructions, a written debrief, and contact information should there be any concerns about the study or the behaviors examined. Data were automatically written to file.

Ethical Issues
We obtained approval for the study from the Psychology Research Ethics Committee. Participants gave informed consent before they began the online questionnaire, and the purpose of the research, how the data would be used, the length of the questionnaire, and anonymity were all explained. Participants had the right to withdraw during assessment. Fuller debrief was provided after the questionnaire was completed so that participants understood the nature of the research.

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TABLE 1. Means, Standard Deviations, and Reliabilities of All Measures (N = 226) Scale NEO-Five-Factor Inventory-Revised Neuroticism Extraversion Openness to experience Agreeableness Conscientiousness Maudsley Obsessive-Compulsive Inventory Checking Cleaning Internet Addiction Test Sexual Addiction Screening Test Cyber Pornography Use Inventory Compulsivity Social M 21.69 29.12 30.46 28.22 28.89 2.40 3.10 30.85 3.36 29.53 4.62 SD 9.16 7.39 6.58 7.34 7.01 4.07 2.20 14.49 3.20 10.45 3.89 Cronbach’s α 0.87 0.84 0.73 0.80 0.81 0.68 0.62 0.91 0.80 0.73 0.76

RESULTS
Table 1 presents means, standard deviations, and internal reliabilities for all measures used in the study. The reliability of all measures used was calculated using Cronbach’s alpha. Reliabilities were good overall, with the lowest being 0.62 (MOCI cleaning) and the highest 0.91 (IAT).

Correlations
Correlations examined the relations among personality, obsessionality, and the behavioral compulsion measures (Table 2). To reduce spurious associations, we focused on associations of p < .01 or below. Significant positive correlations were found between neuroticism and MOCI checking, MOCI cleaning, IAT, CPUI compulsivity, and the SAST. We found significant negative correlations between extraversion and MOCI checking, IAT, and SAST. Openness to experience was not associated with any measure. Significant negative correlations were found between agreeableness and conscientiousness, and IAT, and the SAST. Last, age was significantly and negatively correlated with the IAT, and CPUI compulsivity. Correlations also examined the relation between obsessionality and addiction measures (Table 3). Significant positive associations were found between MOCI checking and MOCI cleaning, and the SAST, MOCI cleaning and IAT, between IAT and CPUI compulsivity, and the IAT and the SAST. A significant positive correlation was also found between CPUI compulsivity and total SAST. These patterns of association show individuals higher in obsessionality are also more likely to view Internet pornography.

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TABLE 2. Correlations Between Personality, Obsessionality, and Addiction Measures (N = 226) Maudsley ObsessiveCompulsive Inventory

Internet Cyber Pornography Sexual Addiction Use Inventory: Addiction Checking Cleaning Test Compulsivity Screening Test Neuroticism Extraversion Openness to experience Agreeableness Conscientiousness Age .44∗∗∗ –.18∗∗ –.06 –.07 .07 –.06 .20∗∗ .06 –.10 –.03 .01 –.17∗ .32∗∗∗ –.19∗∗ .02 –.19∗∗ –.32∗∗∗ –.24∗∗∗ .23∗∗∗ –.06 .08 –.16∗ –.16∗ –.22∗∗ .39∗∗∗ –.19∗∗ .09 –.27∗∗∗ –.18∗∗ –.05

∗ p < .05. ∗∗ p < .01. ∗∗∗ p < .001. Age is root-transformed.

Path Analyses
Given the considerable correlation in the data set, a multivariate approach aimed to clarify the observed relations more elegantly. Two structural equation models were calculated using AMOS (Figures 1 and 2). Neither model used extraversion or openness to experience as predictors, as neither of these personality dimensions showed any substansive contribution to the obsessionality or addiction outcomes in the earlier analysis. We used MOCI checking as a predictor as it was more reliable than MOCI cleaning. We fixed covariance pathways between agreeableness and neuroticism, as well as agreeableness and conscientiousness, to accommodate correlations between these ostensibly independent personality dimensions (Egan, Austin, & Deary, 2000). The first structural equation model was a path analysis exploring the relations among personality, obsessional checking and age, and the three behavioral compulsions examined as observed (manifest) variables. We theorized scores on the CPUI were a product of sexual and Internet compulsions, with these being products of more general compulsivity and personality;
TABLE 3. Correlations Between Obsessionality and Behavioral Compulsions 1 1. Maudsley Obsessive-Compulsive Inventory: Checking 2. Maudsley Obsessive-Compulsive Inventory: Cleaning 3. Internet Addiction Test 4. Cyber Pornography Use Inventory: Compulsivity 5. Sexual Addiction Screening Test
∗p

2 .46∗∗∗ —

3 .33∗∗∗ .21∗∗ —

4 .16∗ .08 .37∗∗∗ —

5 .33∗∗∗ .08 .27∗∗∗ .42∗∗∗ —

< .05.

∗∗ p

< .01.

∗∗∗ p

< .001.

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V. Egan and R. Parmar

e6

e1
-.17

N
-.20

.26

Sex Addiction
.35

.44

e2

A

.20

-.25

.18

e3

MOCI checking
.34 -.15 .25

Internet Pornography Addiction

e8

e4

C

-.33

Internet Addiction
-.19

e5

Age

e7

FIGURE 1. Path analysis (calculated using AMOS) between measured variables in the present study. All boxed constructs are measured variables in the study (age square root-transformed to reduce variance). Straight lines are significant pathways with standardized regression coefficients, curved lines are covariances. Personality (in particular, neuroticism, agreeableness, and conscientiousness), Maudsley Obsessive-Compulsive Inventory: Checking and age predict scores on self reported sex addiction and Internet addiction scales, and these independently predict the amount of Internet pornography a person views. This model fits very well (χ 2 = 1.1, ns, GFI = 0.982, AGFI = 0.957, CFI = 0.994).

we expected neuroticism and agreeableness to predict sex addiction, as would MOCI checking, whereas conscientiousness, age, and MOCI checking would feed into Internet addiction in parallel, these, in turn, independently predicting Internet pornography use. The model fitted very well, χ 2(15), χ 2 = 1.1, ns, GFI = 0.982, adjusted GFI = 0.957, CFI = 0.994. An alternative structural equation model is shown in Figure 2, in which a latent variable of addiction or compulsivity conceptualizes the relations discussed. Again, all pathways are significant. The model produced was not significant (χ 2 = 1.7, p = .06), and again the data fitted the model well (GFI = 0.977, AGFI = 0.936, CFI = 0.965), showing significant pathways to overall compulsivity/addiction from neuroticism and MOCI checking, and separate significant pathways from agreeableness, conscientiousness, and age to the latent “Addiction construct”. Age had a pathway to addiction suggesting the younger the age, the more likely it was for general compulsivity to occur. Direct pathways between neuroticism and conscientiousness and MOCI checking were

Pornography Use, Personality, and Obsessionality

9

e1
-.20

A

-.24

e2
.18

N
.48 .32

e6
.54

Internet Addiction

e7
.23

-.22

e3
.17

MOCI checking
-.41

.50

Addiction

.34

Internet Porn Addiction
.48

e8
.31

e4

C
-.21

Sex Addiction

e9

e5

age

FIGURE 2. Personality, obsessionality, and age fitted to a general addiction latent variable using a structural equation model. The circles are error variances for the measured variables represented in boxes (age square-root transformed to reduce variance). The covariance between the personality dimensions is represented by the double-headed curved arrow between the variables. Straight lines are significant pathways, and standardized regression coefficients exist alongside the various pathways, where negative means a lower level of that factor increases the relating variable. The model fits very well (χ 2 = 1.7, P = 0.06; GFI = 0.977, AGFI = 0.936, CFI = 0.965).

also found, showing direct and indirect influences on latent psychological addiction. The latent compulsivity/addiction variable comprised measures of Internet and sexual preoccupation, and Internet pornography use. Fitness indices between the two models were essentially the same.

DISCUSSION
This study examined how Internet pornography use related to personality, compulsive behavior, Internet usage, and sex addiction. Clear pathways were found between neuroticism, MOCI checking and an overall compulsivity/addiction construct comprising excessive Internet use, sexual preoccupation, and greater Internet pornography consumption. Higher neuroticism was significantly related to Internet pornography consumption, but was also associated with the other behavioral outcomes and compulsivity measures. This reaffirms the clinical axiom that neurotic individuals are often also obsessional and compulsive. We did not find either extraversion or openness to experience strongly predicted to outcome measures once the influence of

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neuroticism, agreeableness, and conscientiousness were entered into analyses. Given the clear, consistent relations within the measures, we tested two models to integrate all information: (a) a measurement model where constructs were used as indirect indices; and (b) a model that created a latent addiction construct out of Internet, sexual, and Internet pornography compulsivity/addiction. Personality and obsessionality drove both models, and statistically, the two models were essentially the same. In theory, the model with a latent variable for compulsivity/addiction was more coherent and consistent, suggesting greater computer, sexual and Internet pornography use is attributable to a single potentially problematic construct emerging from underlying disposition and psychopathology. This view vindicates the view that the most important criteria for assessing sexual addiction is obsession (Leedes, 2001). The notion of generalized vulnerability to addiction is now common, and well evidenced (Walker, Clark, & Folk, 2010). We add to the literature on this topic, which previously favored the importance of impulsivity and sensation-seeking (Ersche, Turton, Pradhana,. Bullmore, & Robbins, 2010), by showing readily measurable general traits of personality and psychopathology also predict such vulnerability. Our results reiterate the continuity of normal and pathological behavior. The significance of low agreeableness, low conscientiousness, and high neuroticism as antecedents to problematic behavior is shown in both simple correlations between measures, as well as the path analyses. Compulsivity (in the form of MOCI checking) was a strong independent influence on general addiction, with indirect effects of neuroticism and conscientiousness also working through compulsivity. That higher neuroticism and lower conscientiousness predicts MOCI checking parallels the association and direction of these traits for compulsive hoarding (LaSalle-Ricci et al., 2006). Men seeking treatment for hypersexual behavior (one of many proxy terms for sexual compulsivity, obsessionality, or addiction) are emotionally unstable, vulnerable to stress (both themselves proxies for general neuroticism) and alexithymic (Reid, Carpenter, Spackman, & Willes, 2008). The present study sampled men from the community, and we are unaware if they had formally recognized clinical problems. Nevertheless, our findings are compatible with those found in the more explicitly pathological literature. Our results lend themselves to the practical and clinical consideration of treatment and therapy for sexually compulsive persons, or those excessively preoccupied with Internet pornography. Overall, persons treated with cognitive-behavioral treatments for obsessive-compulsive disorder have fewer symptoms post intervention than persons given more pharmacological management (Gava et al., 2007). Although sexual and marital therapists are sometimes concerned that they do not have sufficient specific training regarding problematic pornography use (Ayres & Haddock, 2009), basic

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clinical interventions (e.g., twice-weekly exposure and ritual prevention) appear helpful in reducing compulsive sexual symptoms (Williams, Crozier, & Powers, 2011). Southern (2008) likewise recommends generic treatment approaches such as relapse prevention, arousal reconditioning, coping skills training, and dissociative states therapy, which any clinical practitioner or therapist should be able to potentially implement. Conjoint work focusing on intimacy enhancement and the rebuilding of trust and attachment is also often helpful, and can improve a sense of relationship trust, and confidence in the future, mutually softening the entrenched feelings that can otherwise lead to defensiveness, corrosive reproaching, and the resultant psychological reactance that can trouble a couple undergoing therapy (Zitzman & Butler, 2005). One difficulty for somebody seeking to contain compulsive sexual preoccupation through cognitive-behavioral methods is that of being aware of the taboo stimulus through failed suppression. This awareness may lead the person to return to the thoughts themselves, and find them hard to discard, particularly if the person is more self-critical or overvalues such transient thoughts (Magee & Teachman, 2007). The development of acceptance and commitment therapy, in which one accepts the intrusion of thoughts, and encourages awareness of them without action functions to help an individual eschew being drawn by a transient idea, and is an interesting development in the treatment of psychological difficulties (Ruiz, 2010). Acceptance and commitment therapies share elements with other effective cognitive therapies (e.g., dialectical behavioral, mindfulness therapies). Twohig and Crosby (2010) treated a small series of men seeking treatment for excessive viewing of pornography using an acceptance and commitment therapy model. Participants reduced such viewing at short and longer (3-month) follow-up, and also showed reduced levels of symptoms associated with obsessivecompulsive disorder. Though this was an uncontrolled trial that needs tighter replication, the results suggest straightforward clinical interventions can potentially treat problems associated with obsessionality and excessive Internet pornography viewing. The present study inevitably had limitations; our study was self-report, and the sample self-selected. Though we sought a broad age range for participants, there was a skew to participants being aged between 18 and 26 years; thus, one could argue, some of the responses may have reflected immaturity. Nor did we gather information on other addictive behaviors (e.g., gambling, substance abuse), or antisocial behavior. This was intentional; we did not want to overburden participants, were already gathering a lot of psychometric data, and had aimed to focus on everyday behavior with a pathological dimension. The strongest age effect was the association with latent compulsivity/addiction, as one might expect greater compulsive use of .both Internet pornography and the Internet itself in this group. We found no effects of more (or less) education in exploratory preliminary regression

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analyses. Only a small number (n = 12) of participants declared themselves homosexual or bisexual, so there was insufficient data to explore the influence of sexual orientation on the observed associations. Our results would benefit from being replicated in an offender sample, to see if criterion groups show replicable, or stronger effects. Nevertheless, this study shows a clear association between personality and obsessionality in relation to excessive use of the Internet, sexual preoccupation, and Internet pornography consumption. The results of the present study provide strong evidence for generic psychopathological underpinnings such as neuroticism and obsessionality being seen in persons reporting higher levels of Internet pornography use, which in turn appears part of a broader spectrum of addictive behavior, upon which age and lower agreeableness and lower conscientiousness also have an influence. As with many pleasures that are problematic if overindulged, personality and underlying disposition differentiates persons who are subject to such difficulties.

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