The consumption of pornography has been linked to an increase in sexist attitudes among men but not among women, a new study shows.
Long controversial, pornographic imagery and video has become pervasive in modern society as developing technology continues to expand the human mind, opening the average person to mental experiences unimaginable just decades ago. But how have these developments changed the way we think?
Researchers at the University of Copenhagen and the University of California, Los Angeles asked 200 Danish men and women ages 18-30 about their past consumption of pornography, while assessing personality traits such as agreeableness. Those low in that particular trait tend to hold higher levels of antagonism and hostility toward others, and are generally less friendly and more self-interested.
With the experiment set, the researchers then “exposed” the study participants to hardcore pornography, seeking to evaluate whether the material affected attitudes about gender.
Reporting in the Journal of Communication, researchers found that women remained steadfast in their attitudes. But men who had consumed more pornography in the past tended to hold more sexist views toward women, and greater levels of hostility. Moeover, men who scored lower in agreeability tended to experience greater malleability in their attitudes, experiencing a slight uptick in sexist attitudes toward women, including more hostility, negative prejudices, and stereotypical casting.
The findings may help to inform the view of the effects of pornography on the mind and to enable researchers to better understand the mechanisms by which such mental changes occur, Gert Hald told reporters, in a statement. “The study shows the importance of individual differences in research on pornography and underscores that effects of pornography on attitudes may not be the same for everyone".
The study was limited to heterosexual men and women.
Source: Hald, Gert Martin, Malamuth, Neil N. Pornography and Sexist Attitudes Among Heterosexuals. Journal of Communication. 2013.