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A National Prospective Study of Pornography Consumption and Gendered Attitudes Toward Women

Abstract

Whether consuming pornography leads to gendered attitudes toward women has been debated extensively. Researchers have primarily studied pornography’s contribution to gendered sexual attitudes such as rape myth acceptance and sexual callousness toward women. The present study explored associations between pornography consumption and nonsexual gender-role attitudes in a national, two-wave panel sample of US adults. Pornography consumption interacted with age to predict gender-role attitudes. Specifically, pornography consumption at wave one predicted more gendered attitudes at wave two for older—but not for younger—adults. Gender-role attitudes at wave one were included in this analysis. Pornography consumption was therefore associated with interindividual over time change in older adults’ gendered attitudes toward women. Older adults’ attitudes toward nonsexual gender roles are generally more regressive than those of younger adults. Thus, this finding is consistent with Wright’s (Commun Yearb 35:343–386, 2011) script acquisition, activation, application model (3AM) of media socialization, which posits that attitude change following media exposure is more likely for viewers’ whose preexisting behavioral scripts are less incongruous with scripts for behavior presented in mass media depictions. Contrary to the perspective that selective exposure explains associations between pornography consumption and content-congruent attitudes, gender-role attitudes at wave one did not predict pornography consumption at wave two.

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Fig. 1

Notes

  1. As indicated in the literature review, pornography consumption has been correlated with gendered attitudes among both males and females (Brown and L’Engle 2009; Zillmann and Bryant 1982, 1988). Consequently, a pornography consumption × gender interaction on gender-role attitudes was not predicted. Analyses were run investigating this possibility, however. Whether a pornography consumption × gender interaction term was included before entering the pornography consumption × age interaction term (i.e., pornography consumption × gender interaction term entered in step 2, pornography consumption × age interaction term entered in step 3) or after entering the pornography consumption × age interaction term (pornography consumption × age interaction term entered in step 2, pornography consumption × gender interaction term entered in step 3), the pornography consumption × gender interaction term was not significant. Thus, gender did not interact with pornography consumption to predict attitudes.

  2. The possibility that gender-role attitudes interacted with gender to predict pornography consumption was also explored. Whether the gender-role attitude × gender interaction term was included before entering the gender-role attitude × age interaction term (i.e., gender-role attitude × gender interaction term entered in step 2, gender-role attitude × age interaction term entered in step 3) or after entering the gender-role attitude × age interaction term (gender-role attitude × age interaction term entered in step 2, gender-role attitude × gender interaction term entered in step 3), the gender-role attitude × gender interaction term was not significant. Thus, gender did not interact with attitudes to predict pornography consumption.

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Wright, P.J., Bae, S. A National Prospective Study of Pornography Consumption and Gendered Attitudes Toward Women. Sexuality & Culture 19, 444–463 (2015). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12119-014-9264-z

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Keywords

  • Pornography
  • Gender-roles
  • Socialization
  • Selective exposure
  • 3AM