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Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/1959.3/201951
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- Psychological characteristics of individuals who engage in online sexual activity (OSA)
- Squirrell, Marcus R.
- Engaging in online sexual activity (OSA) is a growing phenomenon in much of the Western world. It is frequently argued that excessive involvement in such activity can result in a number of negative consequences including increased psychopathology and psychosocial difficulties, however to date there is little empirical research supporting this claim (Daneback, Cooper, & Mansson, 2005). The overall aim of this thesis was to investigate the expression of sexuality on the Internet using an online questionnaire that surveyed the psychological characteristics and online behaviours of individuals who engage in online sexual activity (OSA). The anonymous questionnaire was posted on sexually oriented newsgroups yielding a sample of 1325 men and women. Participants were aged 18 to 80 years of age, (M = 42 years), and approximately 60% of participants identified as non-heterosexual. Ninety-two percent were male and most engaged in OSA for at least 12 hours per week. Participants in the current study were older, more likely to be male, identify as non-heterosexual (gay, lesbian, bisexual), and be heavier users of OSA than participants from earlier online studies (e.g., Cooper, Morahan- Martin, Mathy, & Meheu, 2002; Cooper, Sheerer, Bois, & Gordon, 1999). Results from the Internet Sex Screening Test (ISST, Delmonico, 1997) indicated that most participants were classified within the At-Risk or High-Risk groups, suggesting that their OSA was likely to be interfering with important aspects of their lives. Participants’ sex and their sexual orientation were related to their pattern of OSA and their offline meeting behaviour. Participants’ Risk-level on the ISST and their sexual orientation were related to scores on depression, anxiety, stress, loneliness and impulsivity, however this pattern was not the same for males and females. Adult attachment style was also related to participants’ OSA. Securely attached participants were more likely to be classified within the Low-Risk group on the ISST and spend less time engaged in OSA. Overall, spending more time engaged in OSA and scoring higher on the ISST was associated with higher levels of depression, anxiety, stress, impulsivity, social loneliness and emotional loneliness. Findings were discussed in terms of methodological implications, suggestions for future research and also implications for clinical psychologists.
- Publication type
- Thesis (DPsych)
- Research centre
- Swinburne University of Technology. Faculty of Life and Social Sciences
- Publication year
- Australasian Digital Theses collection
- Copyright © 2011 Marcus Richard Squirrell.