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      The relationship between sexual sensation seeking and problematic Internet pornography use: A moderated mediation model examining roles of online sexual activities and the third-person effect

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          Background and aims

          Internet pornography consumption is prevalent among college students and problematic for some, yet little is known regarding the psychological constructs underlying problematic Internet pornography use (PIPU). Drawing on the Interaction of Person-Affect-Cognition-Execution model, this study tested a model that sexual sensation seeking (SSS) would impact PIPU through online sexual activities (OSAs) and that this relationship would be influenced by the third-person effect (TPE; a social cognitive bias relating to perceived impacts on others as compared to oneself) in a gender-sensitive manner.


          A total of 808 Chinese college students (age range: 17–22 years, 57.7% male) were recruited and surveyed.


          Men scored higher than women on OSAs and PIPU and on each scale’s component factors. The relationship between SSS and PIPU was mediated by OSAs, and the TPE moderated this relationship: the predictive path (SSS to PIPU) was significant only in participants with high TPE. The moderated mediation model was not invariant across gender groups, with data suggesting that it accounted for a greater proportion of the variance in men as compared with women.

          Discussion and conclusions

          The findings suggest that SSS may operate through participation in OSAs to lead to PIPU, and this relationship is particularly relevant for college-aged males scoring high on the TPE. These findings have implications for individuals who might be particularly vulnerable to developing PIPU and for guiding educational efforts and targeting interventions in college-aged students. The extent to which these findings extend to other age groups and cultures warrants further examination.

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          Most cited references 63

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          The Third-Person Effect in Communication

           W. Davison (1984)
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            Age differences in sensation seeking and impulsivity as indexed by behavior and self-report: evidence for a dual systems model.

            It has been hypothesized that sensation seeking and impulsivity, which are often conflated, in fact develop along different timetables and have different neural underpinnings, and that the difference in their timetables helps account for heightened risk taking during adolescence. In order to test these propositions, the authors examined age differences in sensation seeking and impulsivity in a socioeconomically and ethnically diverse sample of 935 individuals between the ages of 10 and 30, using self-report and behavioral measures of each construct. Consistent with the authors' predictions, age differences in sensation seeking, which are linked to pubertal maturation, follow a curvilinear pattern, with sensation seeking increasing between 10 and 15 and declining or remaining stable thereafter. In contrast, age differences in impulsivity, which are unrelated to puberty, follow a linear pattern, with impulsivity declining steadily from age 10 on. Heightened vulnerability to risk taking in middle adolescence may be due to the combination of relatively higher inclinations to seek excitement and relatively immature capacities for self-control that are typical of this period of development.
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              Integrating psychological and neurobiological considerations regarding the development and maintenance of specific Internet-use disorders: An Interaction of Person-Affect-Cognition-Execution (I-PACE) model.

              Within the last two decades, many studies have addressed the clinical phenomenon of Internet-use disorders, with a particular focus on Internet-gaming disorder. Based on previous theoretical considerations and empirical findings, we suggest an Interaction of Person-Affect-Cognition-Execution (I-PACE) model of specific Internet-use disorders. The I-PACE model is a theoretical framework for the processes underlying the development and maintenance of an addictive use of certain Internet applications or sites promoting gaming, gambling, pornography viewing, shopping, or communication. The model is composed as a process model. Specific Internet-use disorders are considered to be the consequence of interactions between predisposing factors, such as neurobiological and psychological constitutions, moderators, such as coping styles and Internet-related cognitive biases, and mediators, such as affective and cognitive responses to situational triggers in combination with reduced executive functioning. Conditioning processes may strengthen these associations within an addiction process. Although the hypotheses regarding the mechanisms underlying the development and maintenance of specific Internet-use disorders, summarized in the I-PACE model, must be further tested empirically, implications for treatment interventions are suggested.

                Author and article information

                Journal of Behavioral Addictions
                J Behav Addict
                Akadémiai Kiadó (Budapest )
                10 September 2018
                September 2018
                : 7
                : 3
                : 565-573
                [ 1 ]Department of Psychology, Institute of Psychological and Cognitive Sciences, Fuzhou University , Fuzhou, China
                [ 2 ]Department of Psychology, School of Humanities and Social Sciences, Fuzhou University , Fuzhou, China
                [ 3 ]Department of Psychiatry, Yale University School of Medicine , New Haven, CT, USA
                [ 4 ]Faculty of Psychology, Southwest University , Chongqing, China
                [ 5 ]Educational Psychology, University of Missouri-St. Louis , St. Louis, MO, USA
                [ 6 ]Department of Neuroscience, Yale University School of Medicine , New Haven, CT, USA
                [ 7 ]Department of Child Study Center, Yale University School of Medicine , New Haven, CT, USA
                [ 8 ] Connecticut Mental Health Center , New Haven, CT, USA
                [ 9 ] Connecticut Council on Problem Gambling , Wethersfield, CT, USA
                Author notes
                [* ]Corresponding author: Marc N. Potenza; Connecticut Mental Health Center, 34 Park Street, New Haven, CT 06519, USA; Phone: +1 203 974 7356; Fax: +1 203 974 7366; E-mail: marc.potenza@
                © 2018 The Author(s)

                This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium for non-commercial purposes, provided the original author and source are credited, a link to the CC License is provided, and changes – if any – are indicated.

                Page count
                Figures: 2, Tables: 3, Equations: 0, References: 55, Pages: 9
                Funding sources: This work was supported by the National Social Science Foundation of China (grant number: CEA150173). Dr. MNP’s involvement was supported by the National Center for Responsible Gaming. The funding agencies did not have input into the content of the manuscript and the views described in the manuscript reflect those of the authors and not necessarily those of the funding agencies.
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