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Longitudinal Study Links Porn Use to Sexual Aggression and Victimization

By October 13, 2020No Comments

There's a vast amount of research on the harmful effects of pornography, and it's important that this information is accessible to the public. Weekly, we highlight a research study that sheds light on the expanding field of academic resources that showcase porn's harms. These studies cover a wide range of topics, from the sociological implications of pornography to the neurological effects of porn-consumption.


The full study can be accessed here.

Predictors of sexual aggression victimization and perpetration among Polish university students: A longitudinal study

Authors: Paulina Tomaszewska & Barbara Krahé
Published: June 2017

Peer-Reviewed Journal: Archives of Sexual Behavior, Vol 47(2), Feb. 2018. pp. 493-505.

Background

Research has consistently shown that many young adults across the world experience sexual aggression, and youth sexual aggression has been widely recognized as a public health issue. Traditionally, studies have concentrated on female victims and male perpetrators. However, male victimization is increasingly acknowledged.

For the purposes of the present analysis, we define sexual aggression as behavior carried out with the intent or result of making another person engage in sexual activity despite his or her unwillingness to do so. Sexual aggression comprises different coercive strategies, such as the use or threat of physical force, exploiting the fact that the victim is unable to resist, or employing verbal pressure, such as threatening to damage the victim’s reputation. It includes different sexual acts, such as attempted or completed penetration of the body and sexual touch, and can be studied from both the perpetrator and the victim perspectives.

Evidence from Poland suggests that sexual aggression is also a problem among Polish young adults. Across the four studies identified by Krahé et al. (2014), the highest one-year prevalence rate of sexual aggression victimization was 57% for females and 38.6% for males. The highest lifetime prevalence of victimization was 8.4% for women and 25.1% for men. The highest one-year and lifetime prevalence rates of sexual aggression perpetration were 41.6% and 21.7% for men and 39% and 4.2% for women. Fewer studies have investigated predictors or correlates of both victimization and perpetration among Polish young adults.

The present study is the first to prospectively test a theory-based model that predicts sexual aggression victimization and perpetration in a sample of male and female college students in Poland. Our model was based on the proposition that a key to understanding sexual aggression victimization and perpetration lies in young people’s cognitive scripts and behavioral patterns for consensual sexual interactions. Therefore, we examined sexual scripts as predictors of sexual aggression victimization and perpetration via their impact on sexual behavior. We further analyzed pornography use and religiosity as two potential sources of influence shaping sexual scripts and examined low sexual self-esteem as a specific vulnerability factor for sexual aggression victimization. Moreover, we examined attitudes toward sexual coercion as a specific risk factor for sexual aggression perpetration.

Methods

Building on the theorizing and evidence reviewed above, we examined risk factors for sexual aggression perpetration and vulnerability factors for sexual aggression victimization in a sample of university students in Poland.

The study comprised two data waves, T1 and T2, separated by an interval of 12 months.  The sample consisted of 318 university students (104 men and 214 women) from two universities in Poland, the University of Zielona Góra and Warsaw University of Technology, who took part in two data waves in their first and second study year. From the initial sample of 395 students, 71 participants (24 men and 47 women) were excluded because they did not have coital experience. The sample was limited to coital sexually experienced participants because the measurement of risky sexual behavior referred specifically to sexual intercourse.

Results

This study investigated predictors of sexual aggression victimization and perpetration among university students in Poland, considering men and women from the perspectives of both victims and perpetrators.

Overall, about 24% of women and 17% of men reported at least one experience of sexual aggression victimization since the age of 15 until the T1 data wave. The self-reported rate of sexual aggression victimization in 12 months between the T1 and T2 data waves was about 29% among women and 26% among men. The respective rates of self-reported perpetration were 7% among men and 2% among women since the age of 15 up to T1 and 9% among men and 8% among women in the 12 months between T1 and T2. The overall rates of victimization did not differ significantly between men and women. Perpetration rates were significantly higher for men than for women since the age of 15 up to the T1 data wave, but did not differ significantly in the 12 months between T1 and T2.

As reported in Tomaszewska and Krahé (2015), some gender differences were found at the item level. Significantly more men than women experienced forced sexual intercourse and other sexual acts (excluding sexual touch and attempted/completed intercourse) by a friend/acquaintance and by a stranger. No gender differences emerged at the level of the single items in the perpetration reports. Overall, the two gender groups showed more similarities than differences in the extent to which they reported victimization and perpetration, similar to previous studies.

Pornography use indirectly predicted sexual aggression victimization, via risky scripts and risky sexual behavior. More frequent pornography use was related to more risky sexual scripts, which predicted risky sexual behavior, which in turn increased the odds of sexual aggression victimization. This finding is in accordance with prior theorizing and research on the effect of pornography use on sexuality-related attitudes and (risky) sexual behavior (Braun-Courville & Rojas, 2009; Brown & L’Engle, 2009; Wright, 2011) as well as on sexual aggression victimization (Bonino, Ciairano, Rabaglietti, & Cattelino, 2006; D’Abreu & Krahé, 2016).

Men who used pornography more regularly may have internalized the sexuality-related norms conveyed through pornography in their scripts (e.g., men’s constant desire for sex and strong sex drive; Dines, 2010), which may create pressure to comply with unwanted sexual activities. Similarly, women may incorporate the contents of pornography (e.g., token resistance) into their sexual scripts and behavior, increasing their vulnerability to sexual aggression victimization.

The full study can be accessed here.

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