Pornography Use and Violence: A Systematic Review of the Last 20 Years

Trauma Violence Abuse. 2023 Jun 13:15248380231173619. doi: 10.1177/15248380231173619. Online ahead of print.


Pornography use is one of the factors that has been proposed to be associated with violence. We aimed to explore the literature of the last 20 years, with the objective of understanding the possible association between pornography use and violence. Two electronic databases (PsycINFO/PsycARTICLES and PubMed/Medline) were used. We included members of the general population, of any sex, age, and sexual orientation, who were direct users of pornography or have a partner who uses pornography. Only studies with pornography use and violence assessments, and that specifically evaluated the association between both factors, were included. In all, 59 studies met the inclusion criteria. An association between pornography use and nonsexual violence seems to exist, although the causality of this association remains unclear. Heterogeneity of results exists regarding the association between pornography use and intimate partner sexual assault and coercion: some studies have failed to demonstrate this association, while others have observed it partially or significantly. Contradictory results have also been observed when examining the association between pornography use, rape myths, and other beliefs/attitudes. The main limitation is the heterogeneity in the conceptualization of both constructs (pornography and violence). Multiple theoretical models, methodologies, and categorizations have been used in the studies, complicating the comparability of the findings. The association between different types of violence and pornography use requires further in-depth research to better understand the specific link between both constructs.CRD42021259874.

Keywords: porn; pornography; sexual abuse; sexual assault; sexual coercion; violence.

Publication types

  • Review