Pornography Consumption, Modality and Function in a Large Internet Sample

J Sex Res. 2020 Jan;57(1):92-103. doi: 10.1080/00224499.2018.1532488. Epub 2018 Oct 25.


Pornography consumption research often contains measurement inconsistencies that make the literature difficult to integrate. We investigated measurement issues relating to four key areas of pornography research simultaneously in a single data set: (a) differential endorsement across commonly used pornography consumption measures; (b) common modalities of pornography use (e.g., pictures, videos); (c) function of pornography use; and (d) association of age and gender with the above. The sample (n = 1,392) of adults in the United States was collected using Amazon Mechanical Turk and included a much wider age range (ages 18-73) than in typical pornography research. Using all modalities of pornography, 91.5% of men and 60.2% of women herein reported having consumed pornography in the past month. The three primary modalities of pornography consumed were written pornography, pictures, and videos. Videos were consumed most often, but women were much more likely to consume written pornography than men. The primary function of viewing pornography was to enhance masturbation, but notably there was endorsement of many other uses. Cross-sectional age trends and gender differences are discussed with suggestions for future research. Empirical concerns for research in pornography are addressed, with special attention to considerations for estimates of pornography consumption rates and research definitions of pornography.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Attitude to Health
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Erotica / psychology*
  • Female
  • Heterosexuality / psychology*
  • Humans
  • Internet / statistics & numerical data*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Sex Factors
  • Social Perception*
  • United States
  • Young Adult