Close Enough

Kevin Lewis

August 14, 2021

Porndemic? A Longitudinal Study of Pornography Use Before and During the COVID-19 Pandemic in a Nationally Representative Sample of Americans
Joshua Grubbs et al.
Archives of Sexual Behavior, forthcoming


Of the many changes in daily life brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic, social distancing efforts and governmentally mandated lockdowns were among the most drastic. Coinciding with these changes, popular pornography websites made some previously premium content available for free, spurring dramatic increases in traffic to these websites. This increase in time spent at home and reported increases in traffic to specific pornographic websites led to some speculation that pornography use might generally increase over the course of the pandemic and that problematic use might also increase. To test these speculations and quantify the effects of the pandemic and its associated restrictions on social behaviors on pornography use, we analyzed data from a longitudinal sample of American adults. Baseline, nationally representative data were collected in August 2019 via YouGov (N = 2518). Subsequent data were collected in February 2020 (n = 1677), May 2020 (n = 1533), August 2020 (n = 1470), and October 2020 (n = 1269). Results indicated that, in May 2020, immediately following the height of the first wave of pandemic-related lockdowns, more people reported past-month pornography use than at other follow-up time points, but less did so than at baseline. Among those who reported use in May 2020, only 14% reported increases in use since the start of the pandemic, and their use returned to levels similar to all other users by August 2020. In general, pornography use trended downward over the pandemic, for both men and women. Problematic pornography use trended downward for men and remained low and unchanged in women. Collectively, these results suggest that many fears about pornography use during pandemic-related lockdowns were largely not supported by available data.

The agony of partner choice: The effect of excessive partner availability on fear of being single, self-esteem, and partner choice overload
Marina Thomas, Alice Binder & Jörg Matthes
Computers in Human Behavior, forthcoming


Dating apps advertise with high availability of potential partners because users seem to prefer extensive choice. However, on the basis of consumer decision making research, we theorized that such excessive choice could have adverse effects, specifically on fear of being single, self-esteem, and partner choice overload. In Study 1, a survey with 667 adults between 18 and 67, dating app use was associated with an increased perception that the number of potential partners is numerous which, in turn, predicted higher fear of being single. In Study 2, we replicated the positive effect of partner availability on fear of being single in an experimental design with 248 adults between 18 and 38. We experimentally induced low, moderate, or high partner availability by assigning 11, 31, or 91 dating app profiles of allegedly available potential partners to participants. High (compared to low) partner availability increased fear of being single, decreased participants’ state self-esteem, and increased partner choice overload. Findings demonstrate pitfalls of excessive swiping on dating apps and extend choice overload literature by revealing effects on novel outcomes.

Providing support is easier done than said: Support providers' perceptions of touch and verbal support provision requests
Brittany Jakubiak
Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, forthcoming


Although researchers strive to optimize support exchanges, support providers' experiences have largely been overlooked. To identify optimal support from the perspective of the support provider, the current research compared support providers' perceptions of touch and verbal support provision. In Experiment 1, participants were less stressed when they imagined their spouses requesting touch support (versus verbal support). This effect was explained by support providers' perceptions that touch support is less difficult and less likely to produce unintended negative consequences than verbal support and their greater self-efficacy to provide touch support. In Experiment 2, participants who imagined providing touch support (versus verbal or no support) in response to their partner's request anticipated less stress and greater relationship quality while providing support. Greater anticipated security and perceptions that touch support is less difficult and less likely to produce negative consequences explained these effects. Experiment 3 compared requests for touch support, general verbal support, and specific verbal support to test whether the benefits of touch support are explained by specificity. Participants viewed touch support as less difficult to provide and felt particularly special and secure when imagining providing touch support, which indirectly contributed to greater motivation to provide support, less anticipated stress, and greater anticipated relationship quality. Despite support provision deficits among insecurely attached participants, findings were consistent across attachment orientation. This research highlights support providers' experiences and adds to the literature demonstrating benefits of interpersonal touch.

Condom Use at Coitarche Among Men in Non-Steady Relationships in the United States, 2006–2013
Brian Nguyen & Caroline Violette
Journal of Adolescent Health, forthcoming

Purpose: Using U.S. National Survey of Family Growth (NSFG) data from 2006 to 2013, we characterized men aged 15–44 years who reported not using a condom at their first vaginal intercourse (coitarche), while in a non-steady relationship with a female partner.

Methods: Men who reported ever having intercourse were asked about male and female contraceptives used at coitarche. Analysis was restricted to respondents whose first sexual relationship was reported as non-steady, thereby comprising a population for whom condoms are recommended for preventing both pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections. Demographic and behavioral factors were examined against condom use, with significant associations included in multivariable logistic regression. We additionally describe young men’s receipt of various components of sex education prior to coitarche.

Results: Nearly half (43%) of men aged 15–44 in the U.S. reported not using a condom at coitarche during a non-steady relationship. Among these men, coitarche was reported on average at 16 years old; more than one third (37%) endorsed mixed feelings or not wanting to have sex at the time. Older men (adjusted odds ratio [adjOR] 1.07, 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.06–1.08), as with men from earlier National Survey of Family Growth cycles, were increasingly likely to have reported unprotected coitarche. Similarly, men reporting coitarche before the age of 15 (adjOR 2.39, 95% CI 1.99–2.87) or having a younger sex partner at coitarche (adjOR 1.73, 95% CI 1.11–2.69) were more likely to have not used condoms. About three quarters of men received at least some form of sex education prior to coitarche.

Bullying in schools and LGBTQ+ youth mental health: Relations with voting for Trump
Steven Hobaica et al.
Analyses of Social Issues and Public Policy, forthcoming


The current study utilized the 2018 Washington State Healthy Youth Survey to explore the relations among school district political attitudes, bullying experiences, and mental health outcomes, particularly for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ+) students. Although bullying was associated with greater psychological distress (i.e., anxiety, depression, and suicidality) for all students, LGBTQ+ students experienced more bullying and psychological distress. Bullying experiences mediated the relation between LGBTQ+ identity and psychological distress. However, school district voting record moderated the relation between LGBTQ+ identity and bullying, such that LGBTQ+ students in more conservative districts, or districts with more votes for Donald Trump in the 2016 election, experienced more bullying, which was associated with greater psychological distress. Additionally, increased teacher intervention during instances of bullying was related to less bullying for LGBTQ+ students. Finally, in more conservative-leaning districts, LGBTQ+ students reported less teacher intervention, which was associated with more bullying and psychological distress. Given that political conservatism was related to higher rates of bullying and poorer mental health outcomes for LGBTQ+ students, we recommend improving school-based LGBTQ+ bullying policies to prioritize the mental health of LGBTQ+ youth.


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