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Addict Behav. 2017 Jul;70:65-71. doi: 10.1016/j.addbeh.2017.02.001. Epub 2017 Feb 4.

Problematic internet pornography use: The role of craving, desire thinking, and metacognition.

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Faculty of Arts, Business and Law, University of the Sunshine Coast, 90 Sippy Downs Drive, Sippy Downs, Queensland 4556, Australia.
Sunshine Coast Mind & Neuroscience - Thompson Institute, School of Social Sciences, FABL, University of the Sunshine Coast, 12 Innovation Parkway, Birtinya, Queensland 4575, Australia. Electronic address:


Defined as sexually explicit material that elicits erotic thoughts, feelings, and behaviours, internet pornography is a prevalent form of media that may facilitate problematic use and craving for engagement. Research suggests that superordinate cognitions and information processing, such as desire thinking and metacognition, are central to the activation and escalation of craving in addictive behaviours. The current study aimed to contribute to the literature by testing the proposed metacognitive model of desire thinking and craving in a sample of problematic pornography users, while revising the model by incorporating negative affect. From a theoretical perspective, environmental cues trigger positive metacognitions about desire thinking that directly influence desire thinking, resulting in the escalation of craving, negative metacognitions, and negative affect. Participants were recruited via an online survey and screened for problematic internet pornography use. Path analyses were used to investigate relationships among the aforementioned constructs in a final sample of 191 participants. Consistent with previous research, results of this study validated the existence of metacognitive processes in the activation of desire thinking and escalation of craving, while indicating that desire thinking has the potential to influence negative affect. Additionally, results supported the role of significant indirect relationships between constructs within the revised model of metacognition, desire thinking, and psychopathology. Collectively, the findings demonstrate the clinical value of a metacognitive conceptualisation of problematic pornography use. Exploring the metacognitive mechanisms that underpin problematic internet pornography use may give rise to the development of new treatment and relapse prevention strategies.


Addictive behaviours; Craving; Desire thinking; Internet pornography use; Metacognitions; Metacognitive theory

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