Pornography, Individual Differences in Risk and Men’s Acceptance of Violence Against Women in a Representative Sample

Abstract

Based on the Confluence Model of Sexual Aggression, we hypothesized that individual differences in risk for sexual aggression moderate the association between pornography use and attitudes supporting violence against women. This hypothesis was in keeping with the findings of a recent meta-analysis which indicated such a positive association between porn use and attitudes. However, in this meta-analysis there was also a high degree of heterogeneity among studies, suggesting the existence of crucial moderating variables. Unfortunately, the available literature included in this meta-analysis did not enable identifying the basis for such moderation. To fully test our hypothesis of individual differences moderation and related hypotheses requires a representative sample. Fortunately, a unique nationally representative sample of U.S. men in any form of post-high school education that we obtained in 1984–85 enabled testing our predictions. Participants had anonymously completed questionnaires that included items pertaining to pornography use, attitudes about violence against women, and other measures assessing risk factors highlighted by the Confluence Model. As predicted, while we found an overall positive association between pornography consumption and attitudes, further examination showed that it was moderated by individual differences. More specifically, as predicted this association was found to be largely due to men at relatively high risk for sexually aggression who were relatively frequent pornography consumers. The findings help resolve inconsistencies in the literature and are in line not only with experimental research on attitudes but also with both experimental and non-experimental studies assessing the relationship between pornography consumption and sexually aggressive behavior.

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Malamuth, N.M., Hald, G.M. & Koss, M. Pornography, Individual Differences in Risk and Men’s Acceptance of Violence Against Women in a Representative Sample. Sex Roles 66, 427–439 (2012). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11199-011-0082-6

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Keywords

  • Pornography
  • Attitudes supporting violence
  • Confluence Model
  • Rape myths