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Background and aimsInternet pornography consumption is prevalent among college students and problematic for some, yet little is known regarding the psychological constructs underlying problematic Internet pornography use (PIPU). Drawing on the Interaction of Person-Affect-Cognition-Execution model, this study tested a model that sexual sensation seeking (SSS) would impact PIPU through online sexual activities (OSAs) and that this relationship would be influenced by the third-person effect (TPE; a social cognitive bias relating to perceived impacts on others as compared to oneself) in a gender-sensitive manner.MethodsA total of 808 Chinese college students (age range: 17–22 years, 57.7% male) were recruited and surveyed.ResultsMen scored higher than women on OSAs and PIPU and on each scale’s component factors. The relationship between SSS and PIPU was mediated by OSAs, and the TPE moderated this relationship: the predictive path (SSS to PIPU) was significant only in participants with high TPE. The moderated mediation model was not invariant across gender groups, with data suggesting that it accounted for a greater proportion of the variance in men as compared with women.Discussion and conclusionsThe findings suggest that SSS may operate through participation in OSAs to lead to PIPU, and this relationship is particularly relevant for college-aged males scoring high on the TPE. These findings have implications for individuals who might be particularly vulnerable to developing PIPU and for guiding educational efforts and targeting interventions in college-aged students. The extent to which these findings extend to other age groups and cultures warrants further examination.

Publication Date

September 2018

Publication Title

Journal of behavioral addictions





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