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Sexual Addiction, Hypersexual Behavior and Relative Psychological Dynamics during the Period of Social Distancing and Stay-at-Home Policies Due to COVID-19

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Journal: International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health

Abstract

During the COVID-19 pandemic, increased stress factors affected people’s motivations to engage in potentially addictive behaviors. Sexuality, understood as one of the psychological aspects to be investigated to explore the level of psychological well-being of a person, has suffered considerable repercussions due to the pandemic. A growing body of evidence suggests an unprecedented increase in Internet use and online pornography consumption during the pandemic. Since March 2020, during the lockdown period, Pornhub has seen a worldwide increase in pornography use of 11.6% compared to the previous average days. This research was conducted with the aim of exploring the possible increasing use of pornographic material during the lockdown period, in order to assess whether dysfunctional behaviors, such as compulsive behaviors, and thoughts of sex-related obsessives can lead to hypersexual behavior or a more severe Sexual Addiction. The individuals who participated in our research were 18 years of age or older (mean 23.1, s.d. 5.8), and 48% male and 52% females and were recruited online to complete a self-report questionnaire in the period between April 2020 and April 2021. The questionnaires were delivered via main social networks. The tool used for our survey was the SAST (Sexual Addiction Screening Test), a questionnaire including socio-demographic data and data relating to sexual practices, such as sexual orientation and time spent on the Internet for sexual activities. The results revealed significant differences concerning the various factors investigated such as loss of control, addictive symptoms and hide score.