Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Psychology



First Advisor

Patricia J. Morokoff


This dissertation examined the relationship between use of sexually explicit material (SEM) and sexual and relationship satisfaction. Three hypotheses were examined: (1) negative interpretations of a partner's SEM use would be related to lower dyadic satisfaction; (2) interactive SEM use would result in more negative partner interpretations of that use; and (3) distressed couples would be less reliable reporters of each other's SEM use. The study also explored how feminist values, depression, and sexual functioning correlated with interpretations of a partner's SEM use. Participants were 217 couples in exclusive heterosexual relationships solicited through Internet sites devoted to psychological studies. Couples had been together for an average of 9.16 years (SD= 8.03). Of the participants, 70.5% of men (N = 153) and 57.1% of women (N = 124) reported using SEM. The first research hypothesis was partially supported: both direct and mediated effects were present. For women, her SEM use was directly and positively related to sexual and dyadic satisfaction, but the effects of her male partner's SEM use were fully mediated by her interpretations of that use. For men, the full model also better fit the data compared to the direct and mediational models, but did not account for much variance in couple satisfaction. Men's SEM use was directly and negatively correlated with sexual satisfaction. When men reported more distressing interpretations of a partner's use of SEM, the dyad reported lower levels of satisfaction. However, higher female partner use of SEM resulted in more positive interpretations of her use and more positive relationship outcomes. The second hypothesis was unsupported. There was no evidence that participants whose partners used interactive SEM were more distressed than participants whose partners used more conventional materials. The third hypothesis was unsupported. Couples exhibited high reliability in reporting one another's use of SEM, but distressed couples were just as reliable reporters as well-functioning couples. Results from exploratory analyses revealed that sexual functioning and feminist values were not related to SEM use or distress over partner SEM use. In women, higher levels of depression were related to higher levels of distress over a partner's SEM use.



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