Is viewing pornography a problem? In a new study, men who watch porn say it’s more beneficial than problematic.
This paper addresses an important area of research. What was your inspiration?
Technological advances have made pornography more easily accessible than ever before. This accessibility has raised concerns regarding the potential impacts of pornography use, especially in relation to its effect on men. As such, there is a large research literature examining pornography’s impact on men’s attitudes and behaviors. However, relatively few studies have asked men who view pornography what kind of impact they think that pornography has had on their lives. There is also a tendency in pornography research to focus on potential negative effects while minimizing or ignoring any potential positive effects of pornography use. With this study we really wanted to see what men who consume pornography think about their use of porn, in terms of both its negative and positive impact.
What are some of the main points you would want a general audience to take away from your paper?
The men sampled reported that pornography had a greater positive than negative impact on their lives across all of the domains we assessed: sex life, attitudes toward sex, perceptions and attitudes toward the opposite gender, sexual knowledge, and life in general. On average the men sampled reported that pornography had a very small negative effect and a small to moderate positive effect on their lives. This suggests that pornography can simultaneously positively and negatively impact men’s lives, even if most men feel that pornography has a net positive effect. In line with previous research, participants in the current study reported the largest positive effects in terms of their attitudes toward sex, sex lives, and sexual knowledge.
Interestingly, older participants reported fewer negative effects compared to younger participants, even when statistically controlling for level of pornography use. In the article we suggest that this may be because older men have more real-world experience with sexual relationships and thus are better able to recognise the unrealistic nature of pornography.
How might these findings be helpful to someone who works with boys or men?
Given the frequency with which men consume pornography, pornography’s potential impact is an important consideration for those who work with men. The findings of this study may help professionals better contextualize the effects of pornography. It appears that most men find pornography to be a positive, or at least benign, influence on their lives. This being said, many men still feel that pornography has some small negative effect on their lives and relationships. Younger men may be especially at risk of this. Educating young men on the unrealistic nature of pornography may help to attenuate these negative effects.
Read the full article here.
Dan J. Miller is a PhD candidate at the Department of Psychology, Division of Tropical Health and Medicine, James Cook University, Australia. His doctoral work focuses on pornography’s impact on men’s attitudes toward women and sexual relationships.
Gert Martin Hald is an Associate Professor of Medical Psychology at the Department of Public Health, University of Copenhagen, Denmark. He is currently Head of the Research Group for Sexuality and Interpersonal Study at this institution, and a Carlsberg Foundation Distinguished Associated Professor Fellow.
Garry Kidd is an Associate Professor and Forensic Psychologist at the Department of Psychology, Division of Tropical Health and Medicine, James Cook University, Australia.