The pornography "rebooting" experience: a qualitative analysis of abstinence journals on an online pornography abstinence forum

Fernandez, D. ORCID: 0000-0001-7645-9959, Kuss, D.J. ORCID: 0000-0001-8917-782X and Griffiths, M.D. ORCID: 0000-0001-8880-6524, 2021. The pornography "rebooting" experience: a qualitative analysis of abstinence journals on an online pornography abstinence forum. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 50, pp. 711-728. ISSN 0004-0002

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A growing number of individuals using online forums are attempting to abstain from pornography (colloquially termed “rebooting”) due to self-perceived pornography-related problems. The present qualitative study explored phenomenological experiences of abstinence among members of an online “rebooting” forum. A total of 104 abstinence journals by male forum members were systematically analyzed using thematic analysis. A total of four themes (with a total of nine subthemes) emerged from the data: (1) abstinence is the solution to pornography-related problems, (2) sometimes abstinence seems impossible, (3) abstinence is achievable with the right resources, and (4) abstinence is rewarding if persisted with. Members’ primary reasons for initiating “rebooting” involved desiring to overcome a perceived addiction to pornography and/or alleviate perceived negative consequences attributed to pornography use, especially sexual difficulties. Successfully achieving and maintaining abstinence was typically experienced to be very challenging due to habitual behavior patterns and/or cravings triggered by a multiplicity of cues for pornography use, but a combination of internal (e.g., cognitive-behavioral strategies) and external (e.g., social support) resources made abstinence attainable for many members. A range of benefits attributed to abstinence by members suggest that abstaining from pornography could potentially be a beneficial intervention for problematic pornography use, although future prospective studies are needed to rule out possible third variable explanations for these perceived effects and to rigorously evaluate abstinence as an intervention. The present findings shed light on what the “rebooting” experience is like from members’ own perspectives and provide insights into abstinence as an approach for addressing problematic pornography use.

Item Type: Journal article
Publication Title: Archives of Sexual Behavior
Creators: Fernandez, D., Kuss, D.J. and Griffiths, M.D.
Publisher: Springer
Date: February 2021
Volume: 50
ISSN: 0004-0002
Rights: © the author(s) 2021. This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons licence, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article's Creative Commons licence, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article's Creative Commons licence and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this licence, visit
Divisions: Schools > School of Social Sciences
Record created by: Jonathan Gallacher
Date Added: 08 Jan 2021 09:39
Last Modified: 12 Aug 2021 09:10

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