View More View Less
  • 1 General Psychology: Cognition, University of Duisburg-Essen, Duisburg, Germany
  • | 2 Erwin L. Hahn Institute for Magnetic Resonance Imaging, Essen, Germany
  • | 3 General Psychology: Cognition, University of Duisburg-Essen, Forsthausweg 2, D-47057, Duisburg, Germany
Open access

Abstract

Background and aims

Cybersex addiction is discussed controversially, while empirical evidence is widely missing. With respect to its mechanisms of development and maintenance Brand et al. (2011) assume that reinforcement due to cybersex should lead to the development of cue-reactivity and craving explaining recurrent cybersex use in the face of growing but neglected negative consequences. To support this hypothesis, two experimental studies were conducted.

Methods

In a cue-reactivity paradigm 100 pornographic cues were presented to participants and indicators of sexual arousal and craving were assessed. The first study aimed at identifying predictors of cybersex addiction in a freely recruited sample of 171 heterosexual males. The aim of the second study was to verify the findings of the first study by comparing healthy (n = 25) and problematic (n = 25) cybersex users.

Results

The results show that indicators of sexual arousal and craving to Internet pornographic cues predicted tendencies towards cybersex addiction in the first study. Moreover, it was shown that problematic cybersex users report greater sexual arousal and craving reactions resulting from pornographic cue presentation. In both studies, the number and subjective quality of real-life sexual contacts were not associated to cybersex addiction.

Discussion

The results support the gratification hypothesis, which assumes reinforcement, learning mechanisms, and craving to be relevant processes in the development and maintenance of cybersex addiction. Poor or unsatisfying sexual real-life contacts cannot sufficiently explain cybersex addiction.

Conclusions

Positive reinforcement in terms of gratification plays a major role in cybersex addiction

  • B. A. Arnow J. E. Desmond L. L. Banner G. H. Glover A. Solomon M. L. Polan T. F. Lue S. W. Atlas 2002 Brain activation and sexual arousal in healthy, heterosexual males Brain 125 1014 1023.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • A. Barak W. A. Fisher S. Belfry D. Lashambe 1999 Sex, guys, and cyberspace: Effects of Internet pornography and individual differences on men's attitudes toward women Journal of Psychology and Human Sexuality 11 63 91.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • K. C. Berridge T. E. Robinson J. W. Aldridge 2009 Dissecting components of reward: “Liking”, “wanting”, and learning Current Opinion in Pharmacology 9 65 73.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • J. J. Block 2008 Issues for DSM-V: Internet addiction American Journal of Psychiatry 165 306 307.

  • M. Brand C. Laier M. Pawlikowski U. Schächtle T. Schöler C. Altstötter-Gleich 2011 Watching pornographic pictures on the Internet: Role of sexual arousal ratings and psychological-psychiatric symptoms for using Internet sex sites excessively CyberPsychology, Behavior and Social Networking 14 371 377.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • D. Braus J. Wrase S. Grüsser D. Hermann M. Ruf H. Flor K. Mann A. Heinz 2001 Alcohol-associated stimuli activate the ventral striatum in abstinent alcoholics Journal of Neural Transmission 108 887 894.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • J. D. Brown K. L. L'Engle 2008 X-rated: Sexual attitudes and behaviors associated with U.S. early adolescents' exposure to sexually explicit media Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry and Neurology 36 129 151.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • S. E. Caplan 2002 Problematic Internet use and psychosocial well-being: Development of a theory-based cognitive-behavioral measurement instrument Computers in Human Behavior 18 553 575.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • J. Cohen 1992 A power primer Psychological Bulletin 112 155 159.

  • J. Cohen P. Cohen S. G. West L. S. Aiken 2003 Applied multiple regression/correlation analysis for the behavioral science Lawrence Erlbaum Associates Mahwah, NJ.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • A. Cooper D. Delmonico E. Griffin-Shelley R. Mathy 2004 Online sexual activity: An examination of potentially problematic behaviors Sexual Addiction & Compulsivity 11 129 143.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • A. Cooper I. P. McLoughlin K. M. Campbell 2000 Sexuality in cyberspace: Update for the 21st century Cyber-Psychology & Behavior 3 521 536.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • A. Cooper C. R. Scherer S. C. Boies B. L. Gordon 1999 Sexuality on the Internet: From sexual exploration to pathological expression Professional Psychology: Research and Practice 30 154 164.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • K. Daneback A. Cooper S.-A. Månsson 2005 An Internet study of cybersex participants Archives of Sexual Behavior 34 321 328.

  • R. Davis 2001 A cognitive-behavioral model of pathological Internet use Computers in Human Behavior 17 187 195.

  • N. M. Döring 2009 The Internet's impact on sexuality: Acritical review of 15 years of research Computers in Human Behavior 25 1089 1101.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • H. Garavan J. Pankiewicz A. Bloom 2000 Cue-induced cocaine craving: Neuroanatomical specificity for drug users and drug stimuli American Journal of Psychiatry 157 1789 1798.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • F. D. Garcia F. Thibaut 2010 Sexual addictions American Journal of Drug and Alcohol Abuse 36 254 260.

  • J. R. Georgiadis M. L. Kringelbach 2012 The human sexual response cycle: Brain imaging evidence linking sex to other pleasures Progress in Neurobiology 98 49 81.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • P. Goodson D. McCormick A. Evans 2001 Searching for sexually explicit materials on the Internet: An exploratory study of college students' behavior and attitudes Archives of Sexual Behavior 30 101 118.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • A. E. Goudriaan M. B. De Ruiter W. Van den Brink J. Oosterlaan D. J. Veltman 2010 Brain activation patterns associated with cue reactivity and craving in abstinent problem gamblers, heavy smokers and healthy controls: An fMRI study Addiction Biology 15 491 503.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • J. E. Grant J. A. Brewer M. N. Potenza 2006 The neurobiology of substance and behavioral addictions CNS Spectrums 11 924 930.

  • K. M. Gray S. D. LaRowe H. P. Upadhyaya 2008 Cue reactivity in young marijuana smokers: A preliminary investigation Psychology of Addictive Behaviors 22 582 586.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • M. Griffiths 2000 Does Internet and computer “addiction” exist? Some case study evidence CyberPsychology & Behavior 3 211 218.

  • M. Griffiths 2001 Sex on the Internet: Observations and implications for Internet sex addiction Journal of Sex Research 38 333 342.

  • C. Grov B. J. Gillespie T. Royce J. Lever 2011 Perceived consequences of casual online sexual activities on heterosexual relationships: A U.S. online survey Archives of Sexual Behavior 40 429 439.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • S. M. Grüsser J. Wrase S. Klein D. Hermann M. N. Smolka M. Ruf W. Weber-Fahr H. Flor K. Mann D. F. Braus A. Heinz 2004 Cue-induced activation of the striatum and medial prefrontal cortex is associated with subsequent relapse in abstinent alcoholics Psychopharmacology 175 296 302.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • G. M. Hald N. M. Malamuth 2008 Self-perceived effects of pornography consumption Archives of Sexual Behavior 37 614 625.

  • H. Hoffmann E. Janssen S. L. Turner 2004 Classical conditioning of sexual arousal in women and men: Effects of varying awareness and biological relevance of the conditioned stimulus Archives of Sexual Behavior 33 43 53.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • C. Holden 2010 Behavioral addictions debut in proposed DSM-V Science 327 935.

  • G. Holstege J. R. Georgiadis A. M. J. Paans L. C. Meiners F. H. C. E. Van der Graaf A. A. T. S. Reinders 2003 Brain activation during human male ejaculation Journal of Neuroscience 23 9185 9193.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • S. E. Hyman R. C. Malenka E. J. Nestler 2006 Neural mechanisms of addiction: The role of reward-related learning and memory Annual Review of Neuroscience 29 565 598.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • R. Imhoff A. F. Schmidt U. Nordsiek C. Luzar A. W. Young R. Banse 2010 Viewing time effects revisited: Prolonged response latencies for sexually attractive targets under restricted task conditions Archives of Sexual Behavior 39 1275 1288.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • A. E. Kelley K. C. Berridge 2002 The neuroscience of natural rewards: Relevance to addictive drugs Journal of Neuroscience 22 3306 3311.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • E. J. Kim K. Namkoong T. Ku S. J. Kim 2008 The relationship between online game addiction and aggression, self-control and narcissistic personality traits European Psychiatry 23 212 218.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • T. Klucken J. Schweckendiek C. J. Merz K. Tabbert B. Walter S. Kagerer D. Vaitl R. Stark 2009 Neural activations of the acquisition of conditioned sexual arousal: Effects of contingency awareness and sex Journal of Sexual Medicine 6 3071 3085.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • C.-H. Ko G.-C. Liu S. Hsiao J.-Y. Yen M.-J. Yang W.-C. Lin C.-F. Yen C.-S. Chen 2009 Brain activities associated with gaming urge of online gaming addiction Journal of Psychiatric Research 43 739 747.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • G. F. Koob N. D. Volkow 2010 Neurocircuitry of addiction Neuropsychopharmacology 35 217 238.

  • D. J. Kuss M. D. Griffiths 2011 Internet sex addiction: A review of empirical research Addiction Research&Theory 116 1 14.

  • Laier, C., Pawlikowski, M. & Brand, M. (accepted pending minor revision). Sexual picture processing interferes with decision making under ambiguity. Archives of Sexual Behavior.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Laier, C., Schulte, F. P. & Brand, M. (2012). Pornographic picture processing interferes with working memory performance. Journal of Sex Research, Epub ahead of print, doi: .

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • M. L. Lalumiere V. L. Quinsey 1998 Pavlovian conditioning of sexual interests in human males Archives of Sexual Behavior 27 241 252.

  • K. R. Macapagal E. Janssen B. S. Fridberg R. Finn J. R. Heiman 2011 The effects of impulsivity, sexual arousability, and abstract intellectual ability on men's and women's go/no-go task performance Archives of Sexual Behavior 40 995 1006.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • C. Martin-Soelch J. Linthicum M. Ernst 2007 Appetitive conditioning: Neural bases and implications for psychopathology Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews 31 426 440.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • G.-J. Meerkerk R. J. J. M. Van den Eijnden H. F. L. Garretsen 2006 Predicting compulsive Internet use: It's all about sex CyberPsychology & Behavior 9 95 103.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • A. B. Parker D. G. Gilbert 2008 Brain activity during anticipation of smoking-related and emotionally positive pictures in smokers and nonsmokers: A new measure of cue reactivity Nicotine & Tobacco Research 10 1627 1631.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • B. Paul 2009 Predicting Internet pornography use and arousal: The role of individual difference variables Journal of Sex Research 46 1 14.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • T. Paul B. Schiffer T. Zwarg T. H. C. Krüger S. Karama M. Schedlowski M. Forsting E. R. Gizewski 2008 Brain response to visual sexual stimuli in heterosexual and homosexual males Human Brain Mapping 29 726 735.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • M. Pawlikowski C. Altstötter-Gleich M. Brand 2013 Validation and psychometric properties of a German short version of Young's Internet Addiction Test Computers in Human Behavior 29 1212 1223.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • M. Pawlikowski M. Brand 2011 Excessive Internet gaming and decision making: Do excessive World of Warcraft players have problems in decision making under risky conditions? Psychiatry Research 188 428 433.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • M. N. Potenza 2006 Should addictive disorders include nonsubstance-related conditions? Addiction 101 142 151.

  • M. N. Potenza 2008 The neurobiology of pathological gambling and drug addiction: An overview and new findings Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London Series B 363 3181 3189.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • J. Redouté S. Stoléru M.-C. Grégoire N. Costes L. Cinotti F. Lavenne D. Le Bars M. G. Forest J.-F. Pujol 2000 Brain processing of visual sexual stimuli in human males Human Brain Mapping 11 162 177.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • R. C. Reid S. Garos B. N. Carpenter E. Coleman 2011 A surprising finding related to executive control in a patient sample of hypersexual men Journal of Sexual Medicine 8 2227 2236.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • K. Shaughnessy E. S. Byers L. Walsh 2011 Online sexual activity experience of heterosexual students: Gender similarities and differences Archives of Sexual Behavior 40 419 427.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • M. B. Short L. Black A. H. Smith C. T. Wetterneck D. E. Wells 2012 A review of Internet pornography use research: Methodology and content from the past 10 years Cyber-Psychology, Behavior, and Social Networking 15 13 23.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • K. Starcke B. Schlereth D. Domaß T. Schöler M. Brand 2012 Cue reactivity towards shopping cues in female participants Journal of Behavioral Addictions 1 1 6.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • A. Stulhofer V. Busko I. Landripet 2010 Pornography, sexual socialization, and satisfaction among young men Archives of Sexual Behavior 39 168 178.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • R. Thalemann K. Wölfling S. M. Grüsser 2007 Specific cue reactivity on computer game-related cues in excessive gamers Behavioral Neuroscience 121 614 618.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • A. Weinstein M. Lejoyeux 2010 Internet addiction or excessive Internet use American Journal of Drug and Alcohol Abuse 36 277 283.

  • M. T. Whitty L.-L. Quigley 2008 Emotional and sexual infidelity offline and in cyberspace Journal of Marital and Family Therapy 34 461 468.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • L. Widyanto M. Griffiths 2006 “Internet addiction”: A critical review International Journal of Mental Health and Addiction 4 31 51.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • R. M. Wightman D. L. Robinson 2002 Transient changes in mesolimbic dopamine and their association with “reward” Journal of Neurochemistry 82 721 735.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • R. A. Wise 2002 Brain reward circuitry: Insights from unsensed incentives Neuron 36 229 240.

  • Z. Yang J. Xie Y.-C. Shao C.-M. Xie L.-P. Fu D.-J. Li M. Fan L. Ma S.-J. Li 2009 Dynamic neural responses to cue-reactivity paradigms in heroin-dependent users: An fMRI study Human Brain Mapping 30 766 775.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • K. S. Young 2004 Internet addiction: A new clinical phenomenon and its consequences American Behavioral Scientist 48 402 415.

  • K. S. Young 2008 Internet sex addiction: Risk factors, stages of development, and treatment American Behavioral Scientist 52 21 37.

  • K. S. Young M. Pistner J. O'Mara J. Buchanan 1999 Cyber disorders: The mental health concern for the new millennium CyberPsychology & Behavior 2 475 479.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation

Monthly Content Usage

Abstract Views Full Text Views PDF Downloads
Jan 2021 0 202 81
Feb 2021 0 195 112
Mar 2021 0 209 93
Apr 2021 0 214 135
May 2021 0 240 110
Jun 2021 0 153 72
Jul 2021 0 0 0