Untangling the Porn Web: Creating an Organizing Framework for Pornography Research Among Couples


pornography, romantic relationships, couple processes


Research exploring the correlates, moderators, and potential consequences of viewing pornography for romantic couples has surged in recent years. Research in this area has primarily focused on the question of whether viewing pornography for either partner (or together) is related to enhanced, diminished, or has no effect on relational well-being. However, this narrow scholarly focus and the continued methodological limitations of research in this area have made synthesizing or drawing broad conclusions about pornography use from this scholarship difficult. One specific limitation of this area is the lack of any broad organizational framework that could help scholars categorize existing research while also laying the groundwork for future scholarship. In this paper, we argue for such a framework and suggest that relational pornography scholarship could be organized across five broad dimensions: the nuances of the content viewed, individual background factors, personal views and attitudes, a couple’s relational context, and couple processes. We provide a justification for these five areas and then discuss how this framework could help organize and structure the research in this area moving forward.

Original Publication Citation

Willoughby, B. J., Leonhardt, N., & Augustus, R.* (in press). Untangling the porn web: Creating an organizing framework for pornography research among couples. Journal of Sex Research.

Document Type

Peer-Reviewed Article

Publication Date


Permanent URL



Journal of Sex Research




Family, Home, and Social Sciences


Family Life

University Standing at Time of Publication

Assistant Professor