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Searching for Sexually Explicit Materials on the Internet: An Exploratory Study of College Students' Behavior and Attitudes

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Abstract

The convergence of sexuality messages with a computerized medium (specifically, the Internet) represents an unprecedented phenomenon with, as of yet, unknown outcomes. Despite the Internet's widespread use, little is known about users' behaviors and attitudes when searching for sexually explicit materials online. This study examined specific behaviors and outcome expectations and expectancies (or attitudes) of a sample of 506 undergraduate students at a public university in Texas. Data were collected through a self-administered questionnaire, designed and pretested by the authors. Main results revealed that most students in the sample were infrequent and relatively new users of the Internet. Forty-three percent (43.5%) of students had sometime accessed sexually explicit materials through the Internet, but the practice was not very common. Only 2.9% said they accessed these materials “frequently.” Male students were significantly more likely to have accessed the Internet for viewing sexually explicit materials and to claim curiosity about sex as their motivation for this behavior. Women were significantly more likely to have experienced sexual harassment while online. In terms of attitudes, this sample did not appear to value highly or exhibit strong beliefs about the potential outcomes associated with accessing the Internet for sexually explicit materials. Competing explanations as well as the limitations of this study are discussed.

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Goodson, P., McCormick, D. & Evans, A. Searching for Sexually Explicit Materials on the Internet: An Exploratory Study of College Students' Behavior and Attitudes. Arch Sex Behav 30, 101–118 (2001). https://doi.org/10.1023/A:1002724116437

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