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Porn Consumers are More Likely to Accept Rape Myths, Collection of Studies Suggests

This study found that both violent and nonviolent porn consumption are associated with higher levels of rape myth acceptance.

By October 26, 2021No Comments

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.

A Meta-analysis of Media Consumption and Rape Myth Acceptance

Authors: Ashley Hedrick
Published:  October 2021

Peer-Reviewed Journal: Journal of Health Communication

Abstract

The prevalence of rape myths, or false beliefs about rape that blame victims of sexual violence and excuse perpetrators of sexual violence, has been documented throughout a wide range of media content. However, previous meta-analyses of media consumption and rape myth acceptance (RMA) have focused on pornography, and these studies are over ten years old.

This research addresses this gap with a meta-analysis studying the relationship between the consumption of all types of media and RMA. Thirty-two studies (N = 12,016) met inclusion criteria. The overall weighted mean effect size was r = 0.09 (p < .001), indicating a small but statistically significant relationship, where media consumption is correlated with greater RMA.

Sub-analyses indicated that a few media types, especially violent pornography and general pornography, drove this relationship. Results are discussed in terms of cultivation theory, social cognitive theory, and sexual scripting theory.

The results highlight needs for: research exploring the relationship between diverse types of media consumption and RMA, pornography research distinguishing between violent and nonviolent pornographic content, and rape myth-focused media literacy interventions that target adolescents and young adults.

Background

Although a significant amount of research has studied how diverse types of media consumption are related to rape myth acceptance (RMA), the only meta-analyses addressing this relationship have focused on sexual media content. Four meta-analyses have found positive relationships between pornography consumption and RMA (Allen, Emmers, Gebhardt, & Giery, 1995a; Allen, D’alessio, & Brezgel, 1995b; Hald et al., 2010; Oddone-Paolucci, Genuis, & Violato, 2000)…

Given the extent to which rape myths are embedded within a broader spectrum of media content, the effects of their presence warrant further study. Therefore, the current study uses meta-analysis to explore the relationship between the consumption of diverse types of media content and RMA.

Methods

This meta-analysis includes 32 independent samples from 32 different studies. Most of these samples consisted of American participants (63%, k = 20 samples from the United States). Other countries represented in the meta-analysis include Poland (k = 2), Belgium (k = 2), Canada (k = 1), and the UK (k = 1). Six studies did not report where their data was collected.

The participants were also mostly white. Out of the 21 samples that reported participants’ race or ethnicity, the percent of white participants in each sample ranged from 31% to 93%, with an average of 73% of white participants. Sample sizes ranged from 68 participants to 1694 participants, and the cumulative sample size across studies was 12,016.

Publication year for each sample ranged from 1980 to 2020, but only 4 studies were published before 2000. 78% of the samples focused on young adults, with a mean age between 18 and 25. However, 16% of samples focused on adults (mean age of 26 years or older), and 6% of the samples focused on adolescents, (mean age between 12 and 17 years old).

The studies tended to have more male than female participants; the mean percent of male participants per sample is 70%. Out of the 32 studies included in meta-analysis, only 18 studies (56%) included a media theory.

The types of media consumption measured in each study included general pornography (measured in 69% of the studies), violent pornography (22%), general television (6%), entertainment television (16%), sports (6%), magazines (16%), social media (6%), and other (13%).

Results

When the different types of media content consumed are treated as separate sub-analyses, only four media types yield significant results: violent pornography, general pornography, sports media, and the catch-all “other” category, which includes media types that only had one effect size available for inclusion in the analysis.

This study replicates previous meta-analyses’ results regarding pornography consumption and rape myth acceptance, finding statistically significant relationships between pornography consumption and rape myth acceptance (Allen et al., 1995a; Hald et al., 2010; Oddone-Paolucci et al., 2000) and finding that, while both violent and nonviolent pornography consumption are associated with higher levels of rape myth acceptance, the relationship is stronger for violent pornography consumption (Hald et al., 2010).

Hald et al.’s (2010) meta-analysis found larger effect sizes (r = 0.24 for violent pornography and r = 0.13 for nonviolent pornography, compared to this study’s results of r = 0.142 for violent pornography and r = 0.075 for general pornography). However, the present meta-analysis did not find a significant difference between correlations when the decade of data collection was used as a moderator, indicating that the effects of porn and overall media consumption have not significantly changed over the past few decades.

Furthermore, since the sub-analyses for pornography contained a much higher number of samples and participants than and sports media and the “other” category, it appears that pornography may be the main cause of the relationship found in the overall meta-analysis…

These findings highlight the impact that pornography has on individual RMA. Therefore, public health practitioners should consider implementing interventions focused on media literacy of pornography as a means of reducing RMA, and subsequently rape incidence.

The full study can be accessed here.

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