The Effects of Pornography Exposure: A Meta-Analysis, 2000-2014

The Effects of Pornography Exposure: A Meta-Analysis, 2000-2014 – Amanda R. Champion, Cassandra Hesse, Alexandria Parsons, Abbey Elder, & Cory L. Pedersen

Over a decade ago, Paolucci, Genuis, and Violato (2000) discovered that exposure to sexually explicit material (SEM) had significant negative effects on lifespan development. Specifically, exposure to SEM increased risk for sexual deviancy, sexual perpetration, negative attitudes toward intimate relationships, and positive acceptance of rape myth. The purpose of the current study was to expand on Paolucci et al.’s research to determine whether results differ under the existing climate of avid internet use and free and easy access to SEM. For instance, it has been well-established that internet use has increased rapidly in the lives of adolescence and emerging adults over the past decade (Kanuga & Rosenfeld, 2004; Gross, 2004) and concerns surrounding access and exposure to SEM have been widely expressed (Wingood et al., 2001).

The current meta-analysis used 14 quantitative research studies published in academic journals from 2000 to 2014. The majority of studies were conducted in the United States and Europe (i.e., Netherlands, Sweden, Croatia, and Switzerland). Qualitative studies and those involving incarcerated participants were excluded. The following outcome variables were evaluated in our analysis: (1) sexual health, (2) sexual violence, (3) sexual deviancy, (4) relationship intimacy, and (4) permissive sexual attitudes.  A random-effects model was used to calculate weighted and unweighted effect sizes and confidence interval estimates on included dependent variables. Results indicated no effect for increased violence or permissive sexual attitudes after pornography exposure, though small effects were found for sexual health, sexual deviancy, and relationship intimacy.  Relatively high heterogeneity (as illustrated by I2 statistics) may be explained by several moderating factors that varied across the studies included in this meta-analysis, and which should be investigated in future research.

Poster presented at the Western Psychological Association Conference, Las Vegas, 2015.