School of Behavioral Sciences


Doctor of Philosophy in Counselor Education and Supervision (PhD)


Fred Volk


Internet Pornography Use, Moral Disapproval, Masturbation, Religious Struggles, Sexual Shame, Depression, Moral Incongruence


Counseling | Social and Behavioral Sciences


Recently, the topics of Internet pornography use and masturbation have received increased attention among researchers, even though there is a cultural reluctance to discuss the common sexual behavior. This reticence is particularly true for religious and moral communities that have stigmatized the behavior and have historically viewed masturbation as taboo and morally offensive. Similarly, many religious groups morally disapprove of sexually explicit media. Despite morally disapproving of viewing pornography, the nearly universal availability of Internet pornography has resulted in an unprecedented increase in religious individuals viewing Internet pornography. Researchers have found a connection between the moral incongruence associated with Internet pornography use and psychological distress. Recent findings suggest a strong association between pornography use, depression, and masturbation. Although there is a recent surge in the study of masturbation and its relationship with psychological distress, no studies have investigated the effects of masturbation and moral disapproval on psychological distress. This study explores the effects of solo-masturbation and moral disapproval on the relationship between Internet pornography use, religious struggles, sexual shame, and depression. Using an online sample of religious participants (N = 804) that reported viewing pornography in the last month, the present study examined the conditional direct and indirect effects of solo-masturbation and moral disapproval on the hypothesized Internet pornography use-moral religious struggles-sexual shame-depression causal sequence. The results indicated a strong association between Internet pornography use, religious struggles, sexual shame, and depression, with moral disapproval moderating those relationships. Solo-masturbation did not significantly moderate any relationships in the model.

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