Encyclopedia of Evolutionary Psychological Science

Living Edition
| Editors: Todd K. Shackelford, Viviana A. Weekes-Shackelford

Pornography and Women’s Short-Term Mating

  • Vincent Barnett
Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-16999-6_3660-1


Pornography is conventionally defined as imagery specifically designed to generate sexual arousal, although a related definition is imagery of sex acts themselves. Short-term mating relates to brief sexual encounters such as one-night stands, as opposed to stable long-term mating (pair bonding, either monogamous or polyandrous).


It is a widely held misconception that the main function of pornography is to facilitate masturbation. In fact, the main function of pornography is to activate the pleasure circuitry of the brain that is naturally stimulated by sexual interactions in the real world. This may or may not involve masturbation in any instance of porn usage. Examples of non-masturbatory usage are couples using it as part of their normal sexual activities and individuals viewing it in the same way that they watch non-porn content.

In making the benign suggestion that pornography has evolved, this could be meant in two senses. It could mean how pornography has...

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.


  1. Abbot, S. A. (2000). Motivations for pursuing an acting career in pornography. In R. Weitzer (Ed.), Sex for sale: Prostitution, pornography, and the sex industry (pp. 17–34). New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  2. Barnett, V. L. (2018). ‘The most profitable film ever made’: Deep Throat (1972), organized crime, and the $600 million gross. Porn Studies, 5, 131–151.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Buss, D. M. (2004). Evolutionary psychology: The new science of the mind. Boston: Pearson.Google Scholar
  4. Darwin, C. (1874 [1871]). The descent of man and selection in relation to sex. London: Murray.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Davies, A., & Shackelford, T. (2008). Two human natures: How men and women evolved different psychologies. In C. Crawford & D. Krebs (Eds.), Foundations of evolutionary psychology (pp. 261–280). New York: Erlbaum.Google Scholar
  6. Jameson, J. (2004). How to make love like a porn star. New York: ReganBooks.Google Scholar
  7. Salmon, C. (2008). Heroes and hos: Reflections of male and female sexual natures. In C. Crawford & D. Krebs (Eds.), Foundations of evolutionary psychology (pp. 281–292). New York: Erlbaum.Google Scholar
  8. Schmitt, D. (2005). Fundamentals of human mating strategy. In D. M. Buss (Ed.), The handbook of evolutionary psychology (pp. 258–291). Hoboken: Wiley.Google Scholar
  9. Tooby, J., & Cosmides, L. (2001). Does beauty build adapted minds? SubStance, 30(1–2), 6–27.Google Scholar
  10. Whittaker, N. (1997). Blue period: Notes from a life in the titillation trade. London: Indigo.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.LondonUK

Section editors and affiliations

  • Tara DeLecce
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyOakland UniversityRochesterUSA