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Study Finds That Porn Exposure Led to Objectification and Discrimination

This study found that higher past porn consumption significantly predicts acceptance of violence against women—particularly among men with pre-existing sexually aggressive attitudes.

By February 18, 2022No Comments

Decades of studies from respected academic institutions, have demonstrated significant impacts of porn consumption for individuals, relationships, and society. "What’s the Research" aims to shed light on the expanding field of academic resources that showcase porn’s harms in a variety of ways. Below are selected excerpts from published studies on this issue.

The full study can be accessed here.

Experimental effects of degrading versus erotic pornography exposure in men on reactions toward women (objectification, sexism, discrimination)

Authors: Malvina N. Skorska, Gordon Hodson, and Mark R. Hoffarth
Published: December 2018

Peer-Reviewed Journal: The Canadian Journal of Human Sexuality

Abstract

There is considerable debate about the potential harmful impacts of pornography exposure and viewing among men. The current literature suggests that heterosexual men’s use of pornography may be associated with negative attitudes and behavior toward women.

However, little research has experimentally examined exposure to different types of nonviolent pornography, using a range of outcome variables, and differentiating effects for women generally versus the porn actress. In the current study, 82 undergraduate men were randomly assigned to one of three conditions (degrading, erotica, or control); within each condition, they were randomly assigned to watch one of two approximately 10-minute clips: degrading pornography (i.e., nonviolent, debasing, dehumanizing), erotic pornography (i.e., non-degrading, nonviolent, consensual), or a news clip as a control condition.

After watching the clip, measures of subjective sexual arousal, objectification of the specific woman in the clip, essentialism of women, ambivalent sexism, and discrimination against a fictitious woman were completed. Exposure to erotica (vs. degrading) generated less objectification of the porn actress; exposure to erotica (vs. control) also generated the greatest discrimination toward the fictitious woman, although the omnibus for the latter was non-significant.

Exposure to degrading pornography (vs. erotica or control) generated the strongest hostile sexist beliefs and the greatest amount of objectification of the woman in the clip. Thus, pornography use may not be generally harmful or harmless, but the effect of pornography exposure may depend on the type of pornography and the specific outcome.

Implications for debates about the potential negative impact of pornography exposure are discussed.

Methods
[The] participants were randomly assigned to one of three conditions (control (n = 30), degrading [pornography] (n = 25), or erotica (n= 27)) by the computer. Within each condition, participants were randomly assigned by the computer to watch one of two clips (both of the same nature)…

Next, participants completed questions about attitudes about the woman in the clip and about women in general. Then, participants read a fictitious paragraph describing events in a day of a woman named Jessica and answered questions about discrimination relevant to her.

Results

Pornography exposure (vs. watching a news clip) led to greater objectification, greater hostile sexist attitudes, and discrimination, at least in the form of behavioral intentions. This overall finding supports and extends other research conducted on the relationship between pornography use and objectification, attitudes toward women, and discrimination of women…

Men objectified the woman’s perceived sense of mind following an escalating harm pattern: objectification was the greatest after exposure to degrading content, and there was some objectification for erotica (vs. control). This finding supports previous objectification research suggesting that objectification occurs when focusing on the physical attributes of a target.

In other words, simply showing bodies performing sexual acts even in the presence of a loving context results in some objectification. Thus, even in the presence of some love or affection in the pornography, some objectification still occurs, but the greatest amount occurs after exposure to degrading pornography…

Overall, the current study is consistent with arguments that pornography use exerts negative effects in terms of how men think about, evaluate, and behave toward women.

The full study can be accessed here.

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