Pornography actresses: an assessment of the damaged goods hypothesis

J Sex Res. 2013;50(7):621-32. doi: 10.1080/00224499.2012.719168. Epub 2012 Nov 20.


The damaged goods hypothesis posits that female performers in the adult entertainment industry have higher rates of childhood sexual abuse (CSA), psychological problems, and drug use compared to the typical woman. The present study compared the self-reports of 177 porn actresses to a sample of women matched on age, ethnicity, and marital status. Comparisons were conducted on sexual behaviors and attitudes, self-esteem, quality of life, and drug use. Porn actresses were more likely to identify as bisexual, first had sex at an earlier age, had more sexual partners, were more concerned about contracting a sexually transmitted disease (STD), and enjoyed sex more than the matched sample, although there were no differences in incidence of CSA. In terms of psychological characteristics, porn actresses had higher levels of self-esteem, positive feelings, social support, sexual satisfaction, and spirituality compared to the matched group. Last, female performers were more likely to have ever used 10 different types of drugs compared to the comparison group. A discriminant function analysis was able to correctly classify 83% of the participants concerning whether they were a porn actress or member of the matched sample. These findings did not provide support for the damaged goods hypothesis.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Erotica / psychology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Motion Pictures*
  • Personal Satisfaction
  • Self Concept
  • Sexual Behavior / psychology*
  • Sexuality / psychology*
  • Social Support
  • Young Adult