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There is no such thing as a pornography addiction, but those with religious beliefs that conflict with their sexual desires are more likely to believe they are addicted to explicit imagery or videos.

Dr David Ley, a clinical psychologist and director of a behavioural programme in New Mexico, has said there is no strong scientific research to suggest the addiction actually exists.

However, people are more likely to report having an addiction to pornography if their religious values conflict with their sexual desires, having a high libido, or a tendency for sensation seeking.

Ley writes: "We need better methods to help people who struggle with the high frequency use of visual sexual stimuli, without pathologising them or their use thereof."

He adds: "Rather than helping patients who may struggle to control viewing images of a sexual nature, the 'porn addiction' concept instead seems to feed an industry with secondary gain from the acceptance of the idea."

Ley notes the term "pornography addiction" was not included in the most recent Diagnostic and Statistical Manual because of a lack of evidential and scientific data.

Those whose sexual desires conflict with their religious beliefs are more likely to state they have an addiction

In Springer's Current Sexual Health Reports, Ley states the addiction label actually ignores the positive benefits of pornography.

The research unearthed little proof to suggest the negative side effects of a pornography addiction, such as erectile dysfunction. In addition, Ley's team believe pornography has no effect on the brains of users.

Additionally, Ley's study believes the use of sexually explicit material has a very small impact on the variance in adolescents' behaviours. Instead, other individual and family variables are more likely to have an impact.

Ley and his team believe the positive benefits of consumption, such as a decrease in sex offences including child molestation, outweigh the negatives of purported pornography addictions.

Viewing sexual images, according to the research, provides a legal outlet for illegal sexual behaviours of desires, increased pleasure in long-term relationship and a better quality of life.

A separate study by Case Western Reserve University psychology researchers also found a close link between pornography addiction and religious beliefs.

Joshua Grubbs, a doctoral student in psychology and the lead author of the research, said: "This is one of the first studies to examine the link between perceptions of addition to online pornography and religious beliefs."

He added: "We were surprised that the amount of viewing did not impact the perception of addiction, but strong morals did."

In the research, Grubbs conducted three studies in which participants were surveyed on their strength of faith, religious practices and online viewing habits.

Respondents were also asked to complete a survey to measure their perception of addiction.

Two studies involved a general student population of men and women, with an average age of 19, from non-secular (331 participants) and religious (97 participants) higher education institutions.

A third study captured the views of an online adult population of individuals, of 208 participants with an average age of 32.

Grubbs found more than half of the participants reported being Christian or Catholic, heterosexual and Caucasian. About a third reported no religious affiliation.

In general, men reported having greater moral disapproval than women for viewing online pornography. Overall, the three studies showed no significant gender differences in being religious.

The study was published in the Archives of Sexual Behaviour.