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Women Who Regularly Watch Porn More Likely to Say They Learned “How to Be a Good Sexual Partner” from Porn

This study found that young people report learning about sex from porn. Frequent female porn consumers are more likely to report learning about body aesthetics and “how to be a good sexual partner” from porn, which is concerning considering the toxic narratives porn perpetuates.

Decades of studies from respected academic institutions, have demonstrated significant impacts of porn consumption for individuals, relationships, and society. "What’s the Research" aims to shed light on the expanding field of academic resources that showcase porn’s harms in a variety of ways. Below are selected excerpts from published studies on this issue.

The full study can be accessed here.

Frequent Female Porn Consumers More Likely to Report Learning ‘How to Be a Good Sexual Partner’ From Porn

Authors: Kate Dawson, Saoirse Nic Gabhainn, Malachi Willis, and Pádraig MacNeela
Published: November 2021

Peer-Reviewed Journal: Archives of Sexual Behavior

Abstract

This study involved the development of two new measures to assess what some young heterosexual-identifying adults report learning about sex from pornography.

Inventory items were generated from an extensive literature review and six qualitative focus group sessions with young adults (N = 54) aged 18–29 which explored how pornography could be used as a source of sexual information. A total of 135 items pertaining to sexual learning from pornography were produced, reviewed and categorized by a sample of young adults (n = 9), and finally reviewed for item and construct relevance by a panel of pornography, sex education and scale development experts (n = 6).

Inventory items were administered to a sample of young adult university students (n = 1306). Two separate exploratory factor analyses were conducted for the female and male datasets. The final factors were reviewed by a panel of young adults = 8) to identify the theme of each factor. Both the SIPI-F and SIPI-M yielded three factors: (1) How to be a good sexual partner, (2) Body aesthetic, and (3) Sexual exploration.

Results show that pornography provides information about a range of sex-related topics. Findings also show that more frequent female pornography users reported learning more about how to be a good sexual partner and body aesthetic than less frequent pornography users. The SIPI-F and SIPI-M can be useful for examining a variety of questions regarding the use of pornography as an informal source of sexual information and its correlates.

Methods

We received 1,306 responses from heterosexual-identifying young adults… We conducted the final analysis with heterosexual-identifying young adults.

The majority of participants were Irish (77%) and were 18–21 years of age (68%)… We asked participants to read the following question: “Please indicate the degree to which you have learned something about the following items from watching porn.” Responses were recorded on a 5 point Likert-style scale (1. Nothing, 2. A little, 3. Some, 4. A lot, 5. Everything).

Each participant received a randomized set of the complete scale item list… We measured participants frequency of pornography engagement on a five-point Likert scale (Never; Less than once a month; 1–2 times per month; 1–2 times per week; 3 times per week or more). For the purpose of analysis, less frequent (Less than once a month, 1–2 times per month) and more frequent pornography (1–2 times per week, three times per week or more) users were combined to create a binary variable.

Results

A statistically significant difference between less frequent and more frequent female viewers was also observed regarding subscale 1, being a good sexual partner t(183) = 3.10, p = 0.002 and subscale 3, body aesthetic t(179) = 2.23, p = 0.027.

More frequent viewers (M = 20.03, SD = 7.79) reported learning more about being a good sexual partner from watching pornography than less frequent viewers (M = 15.81, SD = 6.41). More frequent female viewers reported greater learning (M = 21.54, SD = 12.75) regarding body aesthetics than less frequent viewers (M = 18.26, SD = 11.43).

There was no significant difference between less (26.17, SD = 15.30) and more (M = 29.42, SD = 16.28) frequent male viewers regarding their reported learning for Subscale 1 t(211) = 1.28, p = 0.203. There was no significant difference between less (M = 12.39, SD = 7.49) and more (M = 14.89, SD = 7.96) frequent viewers for Subscale 2 t(171) = 1.84, p = 0.067. Nor was there a significant difference between less (M = 10.75, SD = 4.24) and more (M = 11.10, SD = 4.46) frequent viewers for Subscale 3 t(189) = 0.473, p = 0.637…

The variability in pornography means that it is unlikely that all depictions will provide accurate or reliable information. Pornography may set sexual norms about behavior and functioning, particularly if there is no available information about the realities of some practices.

This is particularly problematic for youth who may choose to engage with non-consensual and violent pornography.

The full study can be accessed here.

Truth About Porn

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