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Study Shows 70% of Porn Consumers who Learn of Porn Performer Mistreatment Try to Combat It

The majority of porn consumers who participated in this study weren't concerned about porn performer mistreatment, but those who did learn about performer mistreatment took action to combat it.

By February 23, 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.

American Adult Pornography Consumers’ Beliefs and Behaviors Related to Pornography Studios Mistreating Their Performers

Authors: Craig Tollini & Bridget Diamond-Welch
Published: May 2021

Peer-Reviewed Journal: Sexuality & Culture

Abstract

Previous research provided limited information regarding pornography consumers’ beliefs and behaviors related to pornography studios mistreating performers, as well as the relationships between these variables.

Consumers’ potential impact on studios makes this information important for researchers, as well as individuals and organizations seeking to reduce mistreatment.

To address this gap in the literature, this project analyzed data provided by 476 American adult pornography consumers obtained via Amazon Mechanical Turk regarding: consumers’ exposure to media accounts of how studios treat performers, consumers’ beliefs about the prevalence of mistreatment, how often consumers thought about performers or looked for information about how studios treated performers, how consumers looked for this information, and what actions consumers took after determining studios mistreated their performers or being exposed to media accounts of mistreatment.

Univariate analyses were conducted to provide a baseline of consumers’ experiences, beliefs, and behaviors, and bivariate and multivariate analyses were conducted to ascertain if data supported anticipated connections between the variables.

The results indicated most participants were unconcerned about mistreatment and did not pay attention to, or seek out, information about how studios treat performers, though the majority of participants who learned about mistreatment took at least one type of action.

In addition, nearly every anticipated relationship was significant and in the expected direction. Limitations and suggestions for future research are discussed after the presentation of conclusions and implications derived from the analyses.

Background

Consumers of pornography have a potentially important role in reducing the amount of mistreatment performers experience.

As Potter (2016) argued, “lack of scrutiny of the porn workplace, either by the consumer public or organized labor, makes basic safety, hours, and wages matters that are adjudicated on the set” (p. 113, emphasis added). Consumers may not advocate for performers if they are unaware of, or unconcerned about, the mistreatment performers encounter.

This inaction could lead studios to continue mistreating performers because of a perceived lack of repercussions. Alternatively, consumers could engage in actions that minimize mistreatment. For instance, they could boycott studios, which could encourage studios to change their policies.

Methods

The data regarding participants’ exposure to media accounts about how studios treat performers came from multiple survey questions. Some came from combinations of responses to six questions that focused on specific types of media.

Participants were asked if they currently followed any performers on social media (i.e., Instagram and Twitter), and those who did were asked one question about how many of those performers ever posted about being treated well by studios and another question about how many performers ever posted about being mistreated by studios.

Similarly, participants were asked if they currently read any pornography blogs or news sites (e.g., Adult Video News and Str8 Up Gay Porn), and those who did were asked about how many of the stories they read described a studio mistreating performers and about how many described a studio treating them well.

The participants who indicated they heard or saw media accounts of at least one studio mistreating performers were asked up to four additional questions (depending on if they watched videos on tubesites and/or studio websites) regarding what actions they ever took after hearing or seeing these accounts.

In addition, the participants who looked for information about at least one studio were asked about how many studios they determined mistreated their performers, and the participants who indicated at least one studio did were then asked a similar set of questions regarding what actions they ever took after making this determination.

Results

The participants generally appeared to be unconcerned about mistreatment and to not pay attention to, or seek out, information about how studios treat performers.

Most of the consumers who participated in this project had limited exposure to media accounts of mistreatment, viewed mistreatment as a limited problem (i.e., only happening at a few studios), and did not think about performers or look for information about their treatment. More specifically, about half of the participants were exposed to any media accounts, and less than half of these participants were exposed to any accounts of studios mistreating performers.

In addition, about one-third said they had seen or heard accounts of mistreatment about just one or two studios, with the percentages continuing to decline as the number of studios increased.

The distributions of the responses to the questions about the perceived prevalence of mistreatment were similar, with the highest percentages of participants saying only one to two studios engaged in each type of mistreatment.

Similarly, the highest percentage of participants never thought about performers, and the majority never looked for information about how studios treated their performers.

Given these findings, the participants in the current project appeared to be less concerned about mistreatment and to perceive mistreatment as less pervasive than the participants in previous studies (Ashton et al., 2019; Marques, 2018; McCutcheon & Bishop, 2015; Neville, 2015; Parvez, 2006).

Relevant to the discussion of the first finding are the results regarding how consumers looked for information. None of the provided ways were selected by a majority of participants, and there was no apparent pattern to which ways participants were more likely to use. For instance, participants did not appear to be more likely to focus on the studio’s website or to use ways that may require less effort, like focusing on the videos’ content instead of searching for posts about the studio on pornography blogs.

The second key finding was the participants, when they learned about mistreatment, were likely to take some form of action. Almost 70% of the participants who saw or heard media accounts of at least one studio mistreating performers took any actions, as did over 90% of the participants who looked for information about at least one studio and determined it mistreated performers.

These findings expand upon those of other studies, which found a substantial portion of participants did not watch videos produced by studios they believed mistreated performers (Ashton et al., 2019; Chadwick et al., 2018; Marques, 2018; Parvez, 2006). Regarding the specific actions taken, participants seemed more likely to engage in behaviors that were less interactive (e.g., not subscribing to a studio or providing negative ratings for the studio’s videos). These actions can also be classified as less official or burdensome, as well as not demanding regulation or systemic changes in the pornography industry.

In other words, consumers appear ready to act, but the actions they are more likely to take appear to be easier and potentially less impactful on the industry than other actions (e.g., contacting police or politicians). As a result, these actions may be a form of moral identity work (see Sun et al., 2017 for a pornography-related application of this concept).

Consumers may engage in these actions more out of a desire to maintain their perceptions of themselves as “good people” rather than to ensure the safety and well-being of performers.

Overall, the bivariate and multivariate analyses indicated positive relationships between exposure to media accounts, the perceived prevalence of mistreatment, the frequency of thinking about performers, and the number of studios for which consumers looked for information. In addition, consumers were more likely to take action if they were exposed to media accounts about more studios mistreating performers, looked for information about more studios, or thought about performers more often.

The observed relationship between consumers thinking about performers and taking action echoed the connection previous researchers found between consumers’ concern for performers’ well-being and decision to seek out or avoid videos from certain studios (e.g., Ashton et al., 2019; Chadwick et al., 2018).

The full study can be accessed here.

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