pornography, sexual media, script theory, sexual satisfaction, sexual quality


Although research has suggested a net negative influence of sexual media on sexual quality, enough researchers have found results suggesting that sexual media has no effect or a positive influence that the matter warrants further investigation. We present an organizational framework utilizing primarily the acquisition, activation, application model (3AM), and the Antecedents-Context-Effects model (ACE) to reconcile these apparently contradictory claims. By synthesizing these theories, we suggest that to truly understand the impact of sexual media on sexual quality, four factors must be taken into account: (1) the content of the sexual media being viewed, (2) the difference between short-term and long-term sexual quality, (3) the influence of exclusivity, formativeness, resonance, and reinforcement in moderating the extent to which the portrayed sexual script is applied (influences attitudes and behavior), and (4) the couple context for congruency of use, script application, and moral paradigms. While acknowledging the many nuances that should be considered, we ultimately argue that when considering these factors simultaneously, the overall scripts presented in sexual media are congruent with pursuing factors for short-term sexual quality and incongruent with pursuing factors for long-term sexual quality.

Original Publication Citation

Leonhardt, N. D., Spencer, T. J., Butler, M. H., Theobald, A. C. (2018). An organizational framework for sexual media’s influence on sexual quality. Archives Of Sexual Behavior, 1-17. Advance online publication.

Document Type

Peer-Reviewed Article

Publication Date


Permanent URL


Archives of Sexual Behavior




Family, Home, and Social Sciences


Family Life

University Standing at Time of Publication

Full Professor