People who watch porn more than once a week become more religious over time, study finds

June 22 11:00 2016 Print This Article

Researchers say increased religiosity among regular watchers of porn could be compensation for guilty feelings.

Most people know at least one person who watches porn ‘religiously’.

neon_cross_3But a new study has found that watching pornography more than once a week can cause people to hold stronger religious beliefs than those who only occasionally watch x-rated videos.

And researchers say this could be down to people compensating for guilty feelings with prayer.

Samuel Perry analysed data from more than 1,300 Americans over a six-year period to find out how watching pornography affects religious belief over time.

“Those who used pornography at the highest frequencies seemed to be more religious in terms of prayer frequency and worship attendance than those who used pornography at more moderate levels,” Dr Perry told The Independent.

“Specifically, those who viewed pornography weekly or more in 2006 reported praying more often and attending worship services more often by 2012 compared to those who viewed pornography monthly or less earlier on.”

This surprising result came amid other findings which fit more readily with traditional ideas of religious aversions to pornography.

The paper, published in the Journal of Sex Research, found people who never watched porn were the most pious and had the fewest doubts about their faith.

And in general, viewing pornography up to a few times a month made people less religious over time, causing a reduction in how often people prayed or attended a religious institution.

This result was predicted by Dr Perry, who said: “For religious Americans, pornography use is at odds with their view of sexual morality. This is a huge moral problem for these folks, especially when they’re using it rather consistently.”

However, among people who indulge in “higher levels of pornography viewing” – defined as once a week or more – Dr Perry found an increase in spirituality and fewer religious doubts than in moderate viewers.

Dr Perry gave a number of different theories for why this might be, with most relating to guilt in some way.

Some people who watched pornography might have turned to religion for repentance, he theorised, while in some cases compulsive behaviour towards both religious participation and pornography use might be the cause.

But the result was more likely to be down to compensatory action, he said – or possibly because some people have watched so much porn that they no longer feel guilty about combining it with religious pursuits.

“It could be that those who use pornography at the highest frequencies are eventually able to separate religion and porn use in their minds to where it no longer causes a cognitive dissonance,” he said.

“Basically, it could be that pornography use has become something they’re so wedded to that it no longer makes them feel guilty and they just do it daily, like brushing their teeth or exercising. This allows them to be very religious while using pornography at the highest frequencies.”

Religious people who look at pornography frequently “may be saying something like, ‘Ok God, I’m may be disobeying you in this area of my life, but look at all the religious stuff I’m doing over here!’”

Previous research has shown consistently that people who are more religious tend to watch pornography less often.

Dr Perry stressed that his research did not find that religion causes people to watch more porn, but that real porn disciples may find themselves in church more often than expected.

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