Beáta Bőthe focuses on porn

Beáta Bőthe, assistant  in UdeM’s Department of Psychology. Credit: A
Beáta Bőthe, assistant in UdeM’s Department of Psychology. Credit: Amélie Philibert

A new assistant professor in UdeM’s Department of Psychology, the Hungarian-born pornography expert studies sexuality, addiction and online sexual behaviour.

Beáta Bőthe, who recently joined the faculty of the Université de Montréal’s Faculty of Arts and Sciences, wants to help educate future generations while advancing research on online sexual behaviour, particularly the use of pornography.

Bőthe was born in Hungary and studied psychology at Eötvös Loránd University in Budapest. Early in her career, she became interested in maladaptive and compulsive online sexual behaviours. Pornography use, a topic at the intersection of her areas of interest, caught her attention.

To do further research on the subject, she came to Quebec to do a post-doctorate with Sophie Bergeron, a professor in the Department of Psychology at UdeM, and Marie-Pier Vaillancourt-Morel, a professor at Université du Québec à Trois-Rivières.

Since then, she has focused on excessive and problematic pornography consumption, ways of distinguishing between the positive and negative effects of online sexual behaviour, and strategies for reducing compulsive sexual behaviour.

-It’s difficult to draw the line between behaviours that are problematic and those that aren’t,- Bőthe said. -That is what we are trying to define more clearly. We can look at the frequency with which a person engages in sexual activities and whether these behaviours have harmful consequences on their relationships with others or their work, for example.-

80,000 people studied

Bőthe led a study of over 80,000 people in 42 countries which found that four per cent of the population engages in some form of compulsive sexual behaviour (sexual activity with consenting adults) and three per cent in problematic pornography, done alone.

-It’s as prevalent as depression or anxiety,- she said. -And problematic porn use can be associated with depressive symptoms and lower self-esteem.-

To bring those numbers down, Bőthe believes we need to raise awareness, particularly among young people, of the consequences of problematic pornography use.

-Kids start watching pornographic videos around the age of 11 or 12,- she observed. -It would be a good idea to include one or two sessions on pornography in sex education classes: first, to help young people sort out what is real and what is not in these depictions, and also to let them know there are solutions if they have problems with porn: therapies, support groups, free online programs, and so forth.-

Not all porn is bad

Bőthe argues that we need to have more conversations about pornography in order to -create space for more nuanced discourses.- She doesn’t think porn is all bad: it can help some people explore their sexuality and sexual preferences, and ultimately increase their sexual satisfaction.

-Pornography can be beneficial or risky,- she said. -That’s why we need to talk about it more in society, in addition to conducting more scientific research on the subject.-

Which is precisely what Bőthe plans to do at UdeM.