Confirming and Expanding the Moral Incongruence Model of Compulsive Sexual Behavior

Neil Gleason, Todd Jennings, Ryan L. Rahm-Knigge, Katja H. Nielsen, Sam Danielson, Michael H. Miner, Eli Coleman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Compulsive sexual behavior (CSB) is a clinical syndrome in which repetitive sexual behaviors, urges, or thoughts cause significant distress and impairment. Moral incongruence (MI), or conflict between an individual’s sexual behaviors and moral beliefs, is highly associated with self-reported problematic pornography use, a common behavioral manifestation of CSB. However, it is currently unknown whether MI is associated with other self-reported compulsive sexual behaviors, such as masturbation, sexual fantasy, and sex with multiple partners. Additionally, research on MI has not explored whether emotional responses to sexual cues (i.e., erotophilia-erotophobia) may serve as a moderating variable in the MI model. To address these gaps in the literature, this study administered an online survey to a sample of 804 American participants. Results confirmed previous research on MI indicating frequency of pornography use is more strongly associated with self-reported CSB at high levels of moral disapproval. This moderation was also replicated with frequency of sexual fantasy and number of sex partners, but not with frequency of masturbation. Results also indicated that self-reported CSB was modestly associated with positive emotional response to sexual cues (i.e., erotophilia) but offered limited support for erotophilia as a moderator in the MI model. Collectively, these findings suggest the MI model can be expanded to several behavioral manifestations of CSB, but that emotional responses to sexual cues may play a limited or more nuanced role in MI.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3429-3441
Number of pages13
JournalArchives of sexual behavior
Issue number8
StatePublished - Nov 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023, The Author(s), under exclusive licence to Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature.


  • Compulsive sexual behavior
  • Erotophilia
  • Erotophobia
  • Moral incongruence
  • Pornography

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Journal Article
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't


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