Pornography, normalization, and empowerment

Arch Sex Behav. 2010 Dec;39(6):1389-401. doi: 10.1007/s10508-009-9592-5. Epub 2010 Feb 3.


Opponents and proponents of erotic representations (referred to hereafter as "pornography") have described the effects of pornography from their perspective. Little, however, has been done in the way of research to investigate these claims from the consumer's point of view. This especially has been so regarding the positive impact of such consumption on a person's sex life. Using a study group of 245 college students, we examined this question in a framework of scripting theory. We wanted to see whether viewing pornography appeared to expand sexual horizons through normalization and facilitate a willingness to explore new sexual behaviors and sexual relationships through empowerment. The data supported this viewpoint and further showed the effects to be mediated by gender and sexual preference identity. They suggested, however, that established scripts were extended rather than abandoned. We conclude with connections between our findings and the widespread viewing of pornography in contemporary society.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Erotica / psychology*
  • Female
  • Heterosexuality / psychology
  • Homosexuality / psychology
  • Humans
  • Interpersonal Relations
  • Male
  • Power, Psychological*
  • Sex Factors
  • Sexual Behavior / psychology*
  • Sexual Partners / psychology
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Young Adult