United States women and pornography through four decades: exposure, attitudes, behaviors, individual differences

Arch Sex Behav. 2013 Oct;42(7):1131-44. doi: 10.1007/s10508-013-0116-y. Epub 2013 Jun 4.


Responding to a call for research on pornography and women's sexuality made by Weinberg, Williams, Kleiner, and Irizarry (2010), this study assessed pornography consumption, predictors, and correlates using nationally representative data gathered from U.S. women between 1973 and 2010 (N = 18,225). Women who were younger, less religious, and non-White were more likely to consume pornography. Women who consumed pornography had more positive attitudes toward extramarital sex, adult premarital sex, and teenage sex. Women who consumed pornography also had more sexual partners in the prior year, prior 5 years, and were more likely to have engaged in extramarital sex and paid sex. Consistent with Wright's (2011a) acquisition, activation, application model of mass media sexual socialization and the theorizing of Linz and Malamuth (1993), liberal-conservative ideology moderated the association between pornography exposure and sexual behavior. Specifically, the positive association between pornography exposure and women's recent sexual behavior was strongest for the most liberal women and weakest for the most conservative women. Cultural commentators and some academics argue that technological advances have resulted in a steady increase in the percentage of individuals who consume pornography. Little support was found for this assertion among U.S. women.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Attitude / ethnology
  • Black or African American
  • Educational Status
  • Erotica*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Politics
  • Religion and Psychology*
  • Sexual Behavior* / ethnology
  • Sexual Partners
  • United States
  • White People
  • Young Adult