Stuck in the Porn Box


Pornography, sexually explicit material, consent, well-being


While the viewing of sexually explicit content is by no means a new phenomenon, the digital age and availability of online pornography has led to a surge in scholarship seeking to understand the nature of modern pornography use and its effects. Scholars who study the predictors, correlates, and outcomes associated with pornography use have often stuck themselves into a box that continues to limit not only our understanding of how individuals and couples consume sexually explicit content, but what effect such viewing may have on individual and relational well-being. This box represents both the narrow view that many scholars, clinicians, and policy makers take regarding pornography (pornography is either always bad or always good), as well as the methodological limitations of this area that keep our scholarly understanding limited and incomplete. Like many related issues in the field of sexuality and media consumption, pornography is a broad term applied to varied types of media that are often utilized in an assortment of settings by a wide array of people and couples. Pornography is not one thing, and its effects are likely varied and nuanced depending on a range of contextual factors. The varied nature of pornography use lends itself to scholarship focused on specific elements of such use rather than broad generalizations.

Original Publication Citation

Willoughby, B. J. (2019). Stuck in the porn box. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 48, 449-453.

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

Associate Professor