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Gender Differences in Pornography Consumption among Young Heterosexual Danish Adults

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The aims of the study were (1) to investigate gender differences in pornography consumption among Danish adults aged 18-30 and (2) to examine gender differences in situational, interpersonal, and behavioral characteristics of pornography consumption. A national survey study was conducted using a representative sample of 688 young heterosexual Danish adult men and women. The study found large gender differences in prevalence rates of pornography consumption and consumption patterns. Compared to women, men were exposed to pornography at a younger age, consumed more pornography as measured by time and frequency, and used pornography more often during sexual activity on their own. Gender differences in the interpersonal context of use were also evident, with women using pornography more often with a regular sexual partner than men. In turn, men were found to use pornography more often on their own or with friends (non-sexual partners) than women. For both men and women, the usual place of use was home and no significant gender difference was found in this regard. Men and women were found to vary in their preferences in pornographic materials, with men both preferring a wider range of hardcore pornography and less softcore pornography than women. Gender differences in sexual behavioral factors were limited to masturbation patterns with men masturbating more than women. Male gender, higher frequency of masturbation, lower age at first exposure, and younger age were found to account for 48.8% of the total variance of pornography consumption. The results were discussed in relation to the sociocultural environment and evolutionary theory. It is argued that gender differences in social acceptability, adherence to gender stereotypes, traditions of gender sexuality, gender norms, and mating strategies are key factors in understanding gender differences in pornography consumption.
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Arch Sex Behav (2006) 35:577–585
DOI 10.1007/s10508-006-9064-0
ORIGINAL PAPER
Gender Differences in Pornography Consumption among Young
Heterosexual Danish Adults
Gert Martin Hald
Received: 7 January 2005 / Revised: 20 May 2005 and 11 November 2005 / Accepted: 10 December 2005 / Published online: 13 October 2006
C
Springer Science+Business Media, Inc. 2006
Abstract The aims of the study were (1) to investigate gen-
der differences in pornography consumption among Danish
adults aged 18–30 and (2) to examine gender differences
in situational, interpersonal, and behavioral characteristics
of pornography consumption. A national survey study was
conducted using a representative sample of 688 young het-
erosexual Danish adult men and women. The study found
large gender differences in prevalence rates of pornogra-
phy consumption and consumption patterns. Compared to
women, men were exposed to pornography at a younger
age, consumed more pornography as measured by time and
frequency, and used pornography more often during sexual
activity on their own. Gender differences in the interpersonal
context of use were also evident, with women using pornog-
raphy more often with a regular sexual partner than men. In
turn, men were found to use pornography more often on their
own or with friends (non-sexual partners) than women. For
both men and women, the usual place of use was home and
no significant gender difference was found in this regard.
Men and women were found to vary in their preferences in
pornographic materials, with men both preferring a wider
range of hardcore pornography and less softcore pornogra-
phy than women. Gender differences in sexual behavioral
factors were limited to masturbation patterns with men mas-
turbating more than women. Male gender, higher frequency
of masturbation, lower age at first exposure, and younger
age were found to account for 48.8% of the total variance
of pornography consumption. The results were discussed in
relation to the sociocultural environment and evolutionary
theory. It is argued that gender differences in social accept-
G. M. Hald (
)
Department of Psychology, University of Aarhus,
Jens Chr. Skous Vej 4, Aarhus C 8000, Denmark
e-mail: gmh@psy.au.dk
ability, adherence to gender stereotypes, traditions of gen-
der sexuality, gender norms, and mating strategies are key
factors in understanding gender differences in pornography
consumption.
Keywords Pornography
.
Sexual media
.
Sexuality
.
Gender differences
.
Denmark
Introduction
Denmark is well-known for its liberal and relaxed attitude
toward sex and pornography (Graugaard et al., 2004) and as
the first country in the world, Denmark legalized the sale of
pornography in 1967 (pornographic texts) and 1969 (porno-
graphic pictures). Nonetheless, in recent years, a rapid grow-
ing scientific, public, and political concern regarding the
prevalence and effects of pornography consumption has re-
sulted in a demand for research into the area. However, as
yet, not a single scientific study exploring these issues has
been conducted in Denmark.
A number of studies outside Denmark on the con-
sumption of pornography have revealed large and clearly
defined gender differences. Thus, men appear to be more
attracted to and consume significantly more pornography
than women, be more attracted to hardcore pornography
devoid of relationship context and emotional attachments,
and generally, although not consistently (see also Fisher
& Byrne, 1978), be more psychologically aroused by
pornography. In addition, men more than women seem to
prefer pornography with many different actors as compared
to pornography with the same actors performing different
acts (Gardos & Mosher, 1999; Janghorbani, Lam, and
The Youth Sexuality Task Force, 2003; Malamuth, 1996;
Mosher & MacIan, 1994; Træen, Spitznogle, & Beverfjord,
2004). Few, if any, scientific studies have examined gender
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578 Arch Sex Behav (2006) 35:577–585
differences in relation to the situational, interpersonal, and
behavioral characteristics of pornographic consumption,
e.g. usual place of use, frequency of use during sexual
activity, interpersonal context of use, thematic preferences
in pornographic materials used in everyday life etc. Further-
more, with the exception of the studies by Hammar
´
en and
Johansson (2001), Janghorbani et al. (2003), Rogala and
Tyd
´
en (2003), and Træen et al. (2004), all studies of gender
differences in pornography consumption have relied on non-
representative samples making it problematic to generalize
the findings of these studies to the general population.
A large number of studies have investigated the effects of
pornography on non-criminal adult populations (e.g., Barak,
Fisher, Belfry, & Lashambe, 1999; Bogaert, Woodard, &
Hafer, 1999; Davis & Bauserman, 1993; Fisher & Grenier,
1994; Malamuth, Addison, & Koss, 2000). However, few
or no adverse effects of pornography have consistently been
found across studies and individuals. Nevertheless, research
increasingly indicates that for a subgroup of users, pornogra-
phy consumption, in conjunction with other factors otherwise
known to be associated with sexual aggression, may increase
the likelihood of adverse effects such as sexual aggressive
behavior (see also Malamuth, 2003; Malamuth et al., 2000;
Malamuth, Linz, Heavey, Barnes, & Acker, 1995). Likewise,
a growing number of researchers now argue for a differ-
entiation of effects across individuals based on individual
differences such as intelligence, personality, culture or risk
factors, otherwise known to increase the likelihood of sexual
aggressive behavior (e.g., Bogaert et al., 1999; Malamuth
et al., 2000). Thus, adverse effects of pornography may be
restricted to a small subgroup of “at risk” users and therefore
not apply to the general user per se.
Correlational research on the relationship between cir-
culation of pornography and sex crimes, in general, finds
no, or even an inverse, relationship, between circula-
tion of pornography and sex crime rates. For instance,
Kutchinsky (1991) found a negative relationship between
circulation of pornography and sex crimes for Denmark,
Sweden, and West Germany. The same held true for Japan
(Diamond & Uchiyama, 1999). In Canada, McKay and Dolff
(1985) found no systematic relationship between increased
circulation of pornography and sexual criminal behavior.
However,for the United States, Kutchinsky (1991) found that
with increased availability of pornography some increase in
rape rates had occurred. On the basis of a review of cor-
relational research of sexual aggression and pornography,
Bauserman (1996) concluded that: “Rape rates are not con-
sistently associated with pornography circulation, and the
relationships found are ambiguous” (p. 405).
As to meta-analysis in the area, Allen, d’Alessio, and
Brezgel (1995) found a small, yet significant, correlation
between exposure to pornography and aggressive behaviour
(r =.13). Likewise, Allen, Emmers, Gebhardt, and Giery
(1995) found small, yet significant, correlations between
non-violent pornography and rape myth acceptance (r =.13)
and between violent pornography and rape myth acceptance
(r =.11).
This study had two purposes. First, to investigate gen-
der differences in pornography consumption among young
adults in Denmark aged 18–30. Second, to examine gen-
der differences in situational, interpersonal, and behavioral
characteristics of pornography consumption.
Method
Participants
Participant in the final sample included a total of 688 young
heterosexual Danish men (n =316) and women (n =372)
aged 18–30. Sociodemographic characteristics (age, primary
and secondary education, further education, province of res-
idence, and city size of residence) of the 688 participants
were checked against the general population of young adults
aged 18–30 living in Denmark using Statistics Denmark.
This control database contains detailed information on the
Danish society. Except for level of education, participants
were found to be representative of young Danish adults liv-
ing in Denmark. Thus, participants in the current sample
were found to be slightly higher educated than the general
Danish population of young adults aged 18–30.
Mean age of participants was 24.64 years (SD, 3.76) for
men and 24.39 (SD, 3.72) for women. Significant gender
differences of participants were found on four of the five
sociodemographic variables (Table 1). Women were found
to have significantly more primary, secondary, and further
education than men (p < .025) whereas significantly more
men than women were found to have served an apprentice-
ship (p < .001). Significantly more men than women came
from a large city (p < .025). Significantly more men than
women reported being in a relationship (p < .001). In turn,
significantly more women than men reported being in a
relationship and living with their partner (p < .001).
Procedure
In October 2003, a stratified sample of 1,002 young adult
men (n =501) and women (n =501) was randomly selected
among all young Danish adults aged 18–30 living in
Denmark using The Central Person Register. The Central
Person Register contains personal information and addresses
of the Danish population (N =5.4 million). The sample
was stratified on the basis of: gender (equal male/female
ratio), age (18–30 years; equal age distribution), place of
birth (Denmark), and citizenship (Danish). The reason for
limiting the study to this cohort was scientific and political
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Arch Sex Behav (2006) 35:577–585 579
Table 1 Sociodemographic characteristics (in %)
Variables Men Women Pearson’s χ
2
Test Effect size (Cohen’s d)
Years of primary and secondary education χ
2
=35.21
, df =2.46
<11 30.7 (316) 12.6 (372)
11 9.2 (316) 15.1 (372)
12–13 60.1 (316) 72.3 (372)
Further education χ
2
=33.00
, df =4.45
None 29.7 (313) 30.0 (367)
Have served an apprenticeship 30.7 (313) 16.3 (367)
0–2 Years 7.7 (313) 12.3 (367)
3–4 Years 16.0 (313) 29.2 (367)
5 Years or more 16.0 (313) 12.3 (367)
City size of residence ns
Rural 13.1 (314) 14.1 (368)
<10,000 14.6 (314) 19.6 (368)
11–60,000 26.4 (314) 29.1 (368)
>60,000 45.9 (314) 37.2 (368)
Relationship status χ
2
=21.16
, df =3.36
Not in a relationship 37.3 (316) 23.7 (372)
In relationship but not living with partner 21.2 (316) 20.2 (372)
In relationship and living with partner 39.2 (316) 55.1 (372)
Other 2.3 (316) 1.0 (372)
Note. Missing data excluded. Numbers in parentheses represent n/cell.
p < .001.
interest. As the cohort has grown up with inexpensive, easy,
and anonymous access to pornography via the Internet, cable
TV etc., and a cultural environment where sex, sexuality, and
pornography have been thematized to a yet unparalleled ex-
tent, both the scientific community and the political society
in Denmark have expressed an interest in an investigation
into the extent of pornography consumption and its effects
amongst both adolescents (12–17) and young adults (18–30).
From October 2003 to June 2004, all randomly selected
young adults were contacted by mail on three separate occa-
sions and invited to participate in a survey study on sexuality
by completing an enclosed questionnaire and returning it in
an enclosed pre-addressed, pre-stamped envelope. Follow-
ing the first wave of letters, 15 potential participants had
moved and the letters were returned. These 15 potential par-
ticipants were thus eliminated from the sample. A total of
716 out of the remaining 987 potential participants returned
the questionnaire.
As the current study was part of a larger range of stud-
ies focusing on the prevalence and effects of pornography
consumption among young heterosexual men and women,
participants indicating that they were either homosexual or
bisexual (n =23) were excluded from the final sample. In
addition, five participants who were under the age of 18 or
above the age of 30 were also excluded from the study. Of
the remaining 959 eligible participants, a total of 688 had
returned the questionnaire. Consequently, the response rate
of the final sample was 65.6% for males (n =316) and 78.0%
for females (n =372) (p < .05).
Measures
On the basis of other international studies of sexuality and
pornography (e.g., Barak et al., 1999; Frable, Johnson, &
Kellman, 1997), the Pornography Consumption Question-
naire (PCQ) was developed. The PCQ consisted of 139 items
and was divided into four parts.
Part 1 consisted of a short instruction explaining how to
complete the questionnaire. In order to standardize the mean-
ing of the term pornography, a definition of pornography was
provided. The participants were told to refer to this definition
whenever the term was used throughout the questionnaire.
Pornography was defined as follows: Any kind of material
aiming at creating or enhancing sexual feelings or thoughts
in the recipient and, at the same time (1) containing explicit
exposure and/or descriptions of the genitals and (2) clear
and explicit sexual acts such as vaginal intercourse, anal in-
tercourse, oral sex, masturbation, bondage, sadomasochism
(SM), rape, urine sex, animal sex etc. It was emphasized that
materials containing men and women posing or acting naked
such as seen in Playboy/Playgirl did not contain clear and ex-
plicit sexual acts and were to be disregarded as pornography
when completing the questionnaire.
Part 2 consisted of 12 items. Ten items included questions
on sociodemographic characteristics and two items included
questions on the use of contraceptives and menstrual cycle
(women only).
Part 3 consisted of 65 items. The items included questions
related to the following areas: exposure patterns within the
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580 Arch Sex Behav (2006) 35:577–585
past 12 months (7 items), age at first exposure (1 item), time
and frequency of exposure (14 items), development in con-
sumption patterns (10 items), preferences in pornography
(2 items), personal and interpersonal context of exposure
(21 items), money spent on pornographic material (6 items),
and sexual behavior (4 items).
Part 4 consisted of 64 items and included items re-
lated to the participant’s individual experience of the pos-
itive/negative effects of pornography.
This article contains data from the first three parts of the
questionnaire.
Results
Sexual behavior
It was found that men masturbated significantly more than
women. No significant gender differences were found for
number of sexual partners or frequency of sexual intercourse
(Table 2).
Pornography consumption
Significant gender differences were found on almost all vari-
ables related to exposure to and use of pornography. Signif-
icantly more men than women were found to having ever
watched pornography and to have done so within the last six
months, one month, one week, and 24 hr of completing the
questionnaire (p < .001). For both genders, the main place
of use was home and no significant gender differences were
found in this regard. However, a significantly higher percent-
age of women than men reported having used pornography
in another context than home (p < .001).
Large significant gender differences in the personal and
interpersonal context of use were found with men reporting
watching pornography significantly more often on their own
or with friends (excluding sexual partners) than women. In
turn, women reported watching pornography significantly
more often than men with a regular sexual partner (all ps <
.001).
Compared to women, it was found that men used pornog-
raphy significantly more often during sexual activity on their
own (e.g. masturbation), were exposed to pornography at a
significantly younger age, and spent significantly more time
per week watching pornography (all p < .001) (Table 3).
Large gender differences in preferences in pornographic
themes were found. Men were found to prefer to watch anal
intercourse, oral sex, group sex (one man—more women),
lesbian sex, and amateurs sex significantly more than women.
In turn, women were found to prefer watching softcore
pornography and group sex (one woman—more men) signif-
icantly more than men (all p < .001). No gender differences
in preference for vaginal intercourse were found (Table 4).
In order to examine which variables best predicted
pornography consumption, multiple regression analysis was
employed. Four variables (average time of use per week,
frequency of use, pornography consumption when having
sexual activity on one’s own, and exposure patterns of
pornography within the last 12 months) were found to be
highly correlated. Based on this, it was decided to investi-
gate whether these four variables could be combined into a
single “Pornography Consumption” measure, yielding a bet-
ter overall estimate of pornography consumption. A principal
axis factor analysis was conducted with the four variables.
Both the screeplot and the Kaiser-Guttmann rule suggested
that only one common factor should be extracted. The factor
scores for the first unrotated principal factor was calculated
and used as an estimate for a “Pornography Consumption”
factor. Besides yielding a better estimate for the exposure
to and use of pornography, the factor analysis had two fur-
ther advantages. First, by collapsing these highly correlated
variables, possible multicollinearity among the independent
variables was avoided in the subsequent regression analysis.
Second, an inclusion of highly correlated and highly similar
variables as independent variables could have inflated the
total explained variance of the final model(s).
Many authors recommend stepwise entry in multiple re-
gression analysis to be avoided unless the study is of an
exploratory nature and/or no theoretical or empirical knowl-
edge is available to guide the analysis (Field, 2003). As
the current study was largely exploratory and only gender
has consistently been shown to be a significant predictor of
pornography consumption (Frable et al., 1997; Janghorbani
et al., 2003), a combination of forced entry and stepwise
entry was used in the multiple regression analyses.
First, gender was entered into the analysis by forced en-
try. Subsequently, sociodemographic data (age, primary and
secondary education, further education, province, city size,
and relationship status), age at first exposure to pornogra-
phy, and sexual behavior (number of sexual partners, fre-
quency of masturbation, and frequency of sexual intercourse)
were entered into the analysis by means of stepwise entry.
The final model showed that male gender, higher frequency
of masturbation, lower age at first exposure, and younger
age accounted for 48.8% of the total variance of pornog-
raphy consumption (R =.709; adjusted R
2
=.488; p <
.001).
When conducting separate multiple regression analyses
for each gender an overlap between variables entering as pre-
dictors of pornography consumption was found. For women,
higher frequency of masturbation, younger age, and smaller
city size of residence entered as predictors and accounted
for 17.6% of the total variance of pornography consumption
(R =.432; adjusted R
2
=.176; p < .001). For men, higher
frequency of masturbation, younger age, and lower age at
first exposure entered as predictors and accounted for 28.9%
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Arch Sex Behav (2006) 35:577–585 581
Table 2 Sexual behavior (in %)
Variables Men Women Mann Whitney U-Test Effect size (Cohen’s d)
Number of sexual partners ns
None 6.7 (315) 4.9 (369)
1–2 23.5 (315) 23.8 (369)
3–6 27.3 (315) 30.4 (369)
7–10 14.0 (315) 14.9 (369)
11–20 15.2 (315) 19.0 (369)
21 or more 13.3 (315) 7.0 (369)
Frequency of masturbation U =23,469
, df =31.08
Do not masturbate 3.5 (314) 22.3 (368)
2 times per month or less 15.0 (314) 45.9 (368)
1–3 times per week 46.8 (314) 28.0 (368)
4 times or more per week 34.7 (314) 3.8 (368)
Frequency of sexual intercourse
a
ns
Have never had sexual Intercourse 7.0 (313) 4.9 (368)
2 times per month or less 36.1 (313) 29.6 (368)
1–3 times per week 41.9 (313) 54.1 (368)
4 times or more per week 15.0 (313) 11.4 (368)
Note. Missing data excluded. Numbers in parentheses represent n/cell.
a
A sexual partner was defined as “a person with whom the participant had had sexual intercourse.”
p < .001.
of the total variance of pornography consumption (R =.545;
adjusted R
2
=.289; p < .001).
Discussion
Although some variation in the reported prevalence rates
of pornography consumption is evident across studies,
comparable international studies have, with few exceptions
(e.g., Pan, 1993), reported consumption rates in the range
of 86–98% amongst men and 54–85% amongst women
(Demar
´
e, Lips, & Briere, 1993; Gunther, 1995; Hammar
´
en
& Johansson, 2001; Janghorbani et al., 2003; Li & Michael,
1996; Perse, 1994; Rogala & Tyd
´
en, 2003; Tyden, Olsson,
& Haggstrom-Nordin, 2001).
When comparing prevalence rates it is however important
to bear in mind that important factors such as the definition
of sexual media/pornography, subject sample, and method-
ology often differ from study to study. Evidently, these dif-
fering factors have an effect on both the overall prevalence
rates and how well these reflect the general population.
In the current study, for example, a rather “strict” def-
inition of pornography was employed. Sexual materials
containing only nudity, such as those seen in Playboy or
Penthouse, were not considered pornography. Applying this
definition would most likely reduce gender differences be-
cause it eliminates an important form of sexual material to
which men expose themselves more than women. That is, un-
less the ceiling effect takes effect, i.e. that the overall preva-
lence rate of pornographic consumption amongst men before
including sexual material containing only nudity as a source
of pornography is already so high that the possibility of a
further increase in consumption rates is limited. In this case,
including nudity as a source of pornography might even de-
crease gender differences as women traditionally have more
“room” for an increase in pornography consumption rates
than men.
Considering that a rather strict definition of pornography
was used in the current study, we were surprised by the
high prevalence of pornography consumption, frequency of
use, and reported use of pornography during sexual activ-
ity on their own among both men and women. The easy
and anonymous availability of pornography on the Internet
may account for these findings, however, a still more liberal,
relaxed, and accepting attitude towards sex, sexuality, and
pornography in Denmark in general may contribute equally.
Indeed, Malamuth et al. (2000), among others, pointed to the
importance of considering the cultural environment in under-
standing “the prevailing public attitudes toward pornogra-
phy” (p. 56). Also, in a study of the Norwegian population,
Træen et al. (2004) found that participants who expressed
positive attitudes towards pornography also were more likely
to use pornography. Furthermore, in the same study, it was
found that the social climate had a direct effect upon the fre-
quency of film watching. Consequently, a prevailing relaxed
and accepting public attitude towards sex and pornography,
such as seen in Denmark (Graugaard et al., 2004), is likely
to influence individuals and affect consumption rates i.e. in-
crease consumption rates of pornography consumption.
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582 Arch Sex Behav (2006) 35:577–585
Table 3 Pornography consumption (in %)
Variables Men Women Tests Effect size (Cohen’s d)
1. Ever watched pornography
Yes 97.8 (316) 79.5 (372) χ
2
=54.46
, df =1 .59
No 2.2 (316) 20.5 (372)
2. If Yes: Have watched pornography within the last U =17,087
, df =31.11
6 months 92.2 (309) 60.0 (295)
Month 82.5 (309) 33.6 (295)
Week 63.4 (309) 13.6 (295)
24 hours 26.2 (309) 3.1 (295)
3. Frequency of use
a
U =16,934
, df =31.12
Less than once a month 15.3 (281) 51.4 (275)
1–2 times per month 17.1 (281) 30.3 (275)
1–2 times per week 28.8 (281) 11.4 (275)
3 times per week or more 38.8 (281) 6.9 (275)
4. Main place of use
a
Home 95.7 (303) 87.1 (272) χ
2
=13.78
, df =1 .32
Other 4.3 (303) 12.9 (272)
5. Interpersonal context of use
a,b
Alone 79.6 (309) 29.5 (295) χ
2
=153.26
, df =11.17
Regular sexual partner 17.8 (309) 34.2 (295) χ
2
=21.29
, df =1 .38
Friend(s) (not sexual partner 9.7 (309) 1.4 (295) χ
2
=19.82
, df =1 .37
Other 3.6 (309) 2.0 (295) ns
6. Percentage of time where pornography has been used when having sexual activity
a
Alone (e.g. masturbation)
M 48.28.7 t =14.74
, df =542 1.27
SD 38.026.2
N 305 284
With others (e.g. partner)
M 2.55.2 t =−2.30
∗∗
, df =587 .19
SD 12.916.1
N 304 285
7. Age at first exposure (years)
a
M 13.214.9 t =−7.48
, df =506 .67
SD 2.33.3
N 302 289
8. Average time of use per week (minutes)
a
M 80.821.9 t =9.08
, df =412 .89
SD 98.146.3
N 285 260
Note. Missing values excluded. Numbers in parentheses represent n/cell. Results are based on consumption patterns and behaviors during the last
6 months.
a
Only participants who indicated to having ever watched pornography were included in the analyses.
b
For interpersonal context of use, participants were allowed to select more than one option.
∗∗
p < .025.
p < .001.
For most countries, Denmark included, it has tradition-
ally been more socially acceptable for men than women
to use pornography. However, a general increase in the so-
cial acceptability of sexuality, including pornography con-
sumption, especially for and among women, seems to have
emerged in Denmark during the past decades although
no scientific data is available to support this claim. It
seems plausible that the impact of such an increase is
also likely to increase consumption rates of pornography
consumption.
The likely social and cultural key factors in understanding
and explaining the high prevalence rates of pornography
consumption found in the present study are: a permissive
cultural environment, a relaxed and accepting public attitude
towards pornography, and an increase in social acceptability
of pornography consumption.
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Arch Sex Behav (2006) 35:577–585 583
Table 4 Preferences in pornographic themes (in %)
a
Variables Men Women Pearson’s χ
2
Test Effect size (Cohen’s d)
Vaginal intercourse 74.6 (284) 79.0 (195) ns
Anal intercourse 32.7 (284) 17.4 (195) χ
2
=13.91
∗∗
, df =1.35
Oral Sex 28.5 (284) 16.4 (195) χ
2
=9.41
, df =1.28
Group sex (one man, more women) 22.2 (284) 12.8 (195) χ
2
=6.76
, df =1.24
Lesbian 22.3 (283) 10.3 (195) χ
2
=11.60
∗∗
, df =1.32
Amateur 19.4 (284) 9.7 (195) χ
2
=8.20
, df =1.26
Softcore Pornography 18.7 (284) 35.6 (194) χ
2
=17.34
∗∗
, df =1.39
Group sex (one women, more men) 12.7 (284) 30.3 (195) χ
2
=22.47
∗∗
, df =1.44
Note. Missing values excluded. Numbers in parentheses represent n/cell. Only participants who indicated having ever
watched pornography were included in the analysis.
a
Among 31 different pornographic themes, participants were asked to select the three themes they watched the most.
Only themes that at least 15% of male or female participants selected are listed. A total of 6.6% of male and 32.3% of
female participants indicated not to have watched any of the themes. These participants were excluded from analysis.
p < .01.
∗∗
p < .001.
We found large gender differences in the interpersonal
context of use with men mainly using pornography when on
their own;and women mainly using pornography either when
on their own or with a regular sexual partner. In addition,
we found that pornography was involved 53.8% of the time
when men were having sexual activity on their own, but only
16.8% of the time when women were having sexual activity
on their own.
The reason for these findings may be that in spite of
a permissive cultural environment, accepting public atti-
tudes towards pornography, and increased social acceptabil-
ity of pornography consumption, a substantial proportion of
women may still find it more acceptable to use pornography
as part of the sexual act with a regular sexual partner than
on their own (Træen et al., 2004). However, the differences
may also be due to an adherence to either gender stereotypes
and/or socialization of gender sexuality which does not, by
default, often include pornography as a potential source of
sexual stimuli for women to be used during masturbation,
whereas the opposite seems to hold true for men.
Although there can be little doubt that the sociocultural
environment is of major importance when discussing gen-
der differences in pornography consumption, evolutionary
explanations must also be considered. Most pornographic
material is characterized by women, who are willing to en-
gage in casual non-committal sexual acts and who display
a wealth of cues associated with fertility, reproduction, and
physical attractiveness, such as young age, full lips, clear
skin, clear eyes, lustrous hair, good muscle tone, absence of
lesions, and facial symmetry (Buss, 2003; Rossano, 2003).
From a short-term human mating perspective, this is exactly
what males are looking for: sexual accessibility to many dif-
ferent fertile females who demand little or no post-mating
commitment or parental investment (Buss & Schmitt, 1993).
In contrast, women’s short term mating strategies differ sub-
stantially from males and show a much greater concordance
with their long term mating strategies. That is, to find a
high status, able-to-protect, high-on-resources male who is
willing to invest all or a substantial part of his time and re-
sources in the female and offspringpost-mating. Eventhough
a large proportion of pornographic material portrays phys-
ically strong, high status, high-on-resources males, it is a
rarity that these males are portrayed as willing to invest
in and/or protect the female beyond climax. Thus, from an
evolutionary perspective, men more than women would be
attracted to pornographic materials because such materials
almost consistently show greater concordance with males’
(short term) mating strategies as compared to females’ mat-
ing strategies.
Multivariate stepwise regression analysis showed that
male gender, higher frequency of masturbation, lower age
at first exposure, and younger age were the strongest pre-
dictors of pornography consumption. That gender was a sig-
nificant and strong predictor for pornography consumption
rates is consistent with prior research (Frable et al., 1997;
Janghorbani et al., 2003; Johnson, 1996; Li & Michael,
1996).
It is, however, interesting that two associated sexual fac-
tors, namely higher frequency of masturbation and lower
age at first exposure, were significant and strong predic-
tors of pornography consumption. Janghorbani et al. (2003)
argued that it is obvious that higher frequency of masturba-
tion is associated with use of sexual media “considering the
psychosexual stimulus nature of sexual media. As users are
sexually aroused by exposure to sexually explicit materials,
they are more likely to be more involved in sexual behavior
or, at least, in thinking about sexual behavior than non-users”
(p. 551). The relationship is just as likely to be reciprocal.
Springer
584 Arch Sex Behav (2006) 35:577–585
Consequently, people with a higher frequency of masturba-
tion might actively seek out sexual media more often and/or
be more inclined to respond to such material with an act of
masturbation as compared to people with a lower frequency
of masturbation. Nonetheless, third factors such as a high
sex drive and/or a high interest in sex must also be consid-
ered in this regard. Certainly, a high sex drive and/or a high
interest in sex would not only account for the strong associ-
ation between masturbation and pornography consumption
found in the current study but also explain why lower age
at first exposure to pornography was a significant predictor
for pornography consumption. Thus, people with a high sex
drive and/or a high interest in sex may well seek out pornog-
raphy more often and at an earlier age, masturbate more,
and engage in sex with a higher number of sexual partners as
compared to people with a low sex drive and/or a low interest
in sex.
The current study reveals large gender differences in
the prevalence of pornography consumption as well as the
situational, interpersonal, and behavioral characteristics of
pornography consumption. As such, the study adds to the
growing scientific literature on pornography consumption
in different cultures. In addition, the study provides an in-
sight into some of the situational, interpersonal, and behav-
ioral characteristics of pornography consumption such as
the where, when, what, and with whom of consumption.
Knowledge of these factors seems important in order to gain
a broader and more in depth understanding of similarities
and differences of pornography consumption in different
cultures. Therefore, it is recommended that future research
increasingly investigates and focuses on these situational,
interpersonal, and behavioral characteristics of pornography
consumption in addition to actual prevalence rates of con-
sumption.
Acknowledgments The study was supported in part by grants from
The Health Insurance Foundation and The Augustinus Foundation. In
addition to the Editor and reviewers, special thanks is given to Christian
Graugaard, Henrik Hoegh-Olesen, Mikkel Arendt, and Peter Hartmann
for valuable comments to the manuscript.
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The current research examined effects of exposure to Internet pornography on university men's attitudes toward women. Study 1 assessed effects of increasing amounts of Internet pornography on undergraduate men's (N = 24) attitudes toward women, self-reported likelihood of sexually harassing a woman, and rape myth acceptance, and no evidence of effects of Internet pornography was detected. Study 2 assessed relationships between individual difference factors (includ- ing sensation seeking, hypermasculinity, erotophobia-erotophilia, and past experience with sexually explicit material) and self-regulated ex- posure to Internet pornography in a free-choice situation, with the same dependent measures in a separate sample of undergraduate men (N = 31). While the individual difference factors were found to be related to self-regulated exposure to Internet pornography, as well as to the de- pendent measures, amount of exposure to Internet pornography per se had no detectable relationship with the dependent measures of misogy- nist attitudes. Discussion addresses future longitudinal research ex- amining whether individual difference factors and exposure to sexually
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This article examines the relation between men's exposure to pornography and their beliefs about men and women. Study 1 presents an individual difference measure for assessing exposure to pornography that was then used in six subsequent studies. In Study 2, high exposure scores predicted being male, having a sexual partner, and the reasons for viewing sexual materials. In Studies 3 and 4, high exposure men were more likely than low exposure men to think that most men perform masculine behaviors. In Studies 5 and 6, high exposure men were also more likely to generate sexual descriptions of women spontaneously. Finally, in Study 7, high exposure men perceived the most gender differences after viewing sexual or sexual/violent music videos; low exposure men perceived the most differences after viewing sexual or romantic ones. These studies suggest that exposure to pornography is related to broad and fundamental ways of understanding men, women, and gender relations.
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According to a 1985 poll, the majority of Americans surveyed thought that pornography served as a source of information about sexuality. Duncan (1990) conducted a survey of 32 subjects and found that pornography was one of seven sources of sexuality information for university students. The literature reviewed, however, revealed little data concerning the role of pornography on sexuality knowledge of American youth. The purpose of this study was to examine how frequently university students were exposed to pornography. In addition, the effects of pornography on specific sex knowledge topics were also investigated. It was found that nearly 50 percent of the subjects saw or read materials which they regarded as pornographic once a month or more. Pornography was ranked 3.5 out of six choices as a source of sexuality knowledge. A significant number of subjects reported that pornography had contributed to their knowledge of eight specific sexuality related topics while 42 percent of the participants considered the portrayals of sexual topics as positive. There was a significant difference between males and females as related to their exposure to and perceptions of pornography.
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A dilemma in the current pornography literature is whether one can classify some types of pornography as “degrading” and then accurately gauge individuals' motivations and reactions. One feature commonly cited as the best example of such degradation is the “cum shot.” In the current study, 375 male and female undergraduate volunteers were shown one of four video tapes: the original/unaltered condition, one that omitted visual images of ejaculation, and two that had the soundtrack altered to accentuate either degradation or acceptance themes. After viewing, participants completed the Ratings of Sexual Arousal (Mosher, 1987), Rating of Enjoyment, and Ratings of Degradation and Acceptance scales. Results revealed that men reported greater sexual arousal and enjoyment to all the videos and rated them as both more accepting and less degrading; the degrading voice-over decreased sexual arousal and enjoyment; and sexual arousal and enjoyment were positively related to ratings of acceptance. These results imply that an individual's interpretation of pornography has a strong impact on their subjective reactions.
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This meta-analytic review examines the effect that exposure to pornography produces on aggressive behavior under laboratory conditions considering a variety of possible moderating conditions (level of sexual arousal, level of prior anger, type of pornography, gender of subject, gender of the target of aggression, and medium used to convey the material). The summary demonstrates a homogeneous set of results showing that pictorial nudity reduces subsequent aggressive behavior, that consumption of material depicting nonviolent sexual activity increases aggressive behavior, and that media depictions of violent sexual activity generates more aggression than those of nonviolent sexual activity. No other moderator variable produced homogeneous findings. The implications of the results for theoretical approaches to understanding the impact of pornography receives discussion, as do the limitations of such findings.
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To assess psychosexual responses to X‐rated videos intended for male or female audiences, 200 male and 195 female undergraduates were randomly assigned to view one of six videos: three X‐rated videos intended for men and three X‐rated videos designed by and for women. Reactions were assessed on measures of sexual arousal, affective response, absorption, and sexual behavior. As predicted, men reported more positive. psychosexual responses to all X‐rated videos than did women. In comparison to videos intended for men, which activated negative affect, women reported more sexual arousal, more positive and less negative affect, more absorption, and more frequent intercourse after viewing the videos designed for women. A preference for the sexual script of role enactment, which is more common in men than women, was related to psychosexual responsiveness to X‐rated videos of both men and women. But the script of partner engagement, which is more common in women than men, did not predict responsiveness to the videos.
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In this article, we critique the literature concerning the prevalence and effects of violent pornography and describe two experiments in which we sought to produce effects of violent pornography on men's fantasies, attitudes, and behaviors toward women. Our critique of the literature revealed that findings for the prevalence and effects of violent pornography are highly inconsistent, and we identified methodological and conceptual limitations that may contribute to the unreliability of findings in this area. Our two experiments involved creation of conditions that should have been sufficient to produce effects of violent pornography on men's fantasies, attitudes, and behaviors toward women, but which produced essentially no such effects. Discussion focuses on factors that may help explain the unreliability of effects of violent pornography on men's fantasies, attitudes, and behaviors toward women, within the research procedures that are commonly used in this area, and on the need to improve methodological and conceptual approaches in studying this important issue.
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Ongoing concern about effects of sexually explicit materials includes the role of such material in sex offenses. Issues include sex offenders' experiences with pornography and the link between pornography and sex crime rates. Review of the literature shows that sex offenders typically do not have earlier or more unusual exposure to pornography in childhood or adolescence, compared to nonoffenders. However, a minority of offenders report current use of pornography in their offenses. Rape rates are not consistently associated with pornography circulation, and the relationships found are ambiguous. Findings are consistent with a social learning view of pornography, but not with the view that sexually explicit materials in general contribute directly to sex crimes. The effort to reduce sex offenses should focus on types of experiences and backgrounds applicable to a larger number of offenders.