Pornography - Is it Harmful? --- The Effects of Pornography
From the Book - Social Psychology, Eleventh Edition, (2006). Baron, Robert A.; Byrne, Donn; Branscombe, Nyla R. Boston: Pearson. p.430-432. Subheadings, italics and bold sometimes added. Social Psychology (13th Edition) (off-site Amazon link)
Pornographic images are now freely available to virtually everyone, including, unfortunately, children. And, disturbingly, not all fo these materials simply show consenting adults engaging in....sexual activity. Some of it includes violent content, scenes in which victims--usually, but not always, women---are abused, exploited, and harmed in various ways (e.g., Linz, Fuson & Donnerstein, 1990; Malamuth & Check, 1985).
If exposure to violence in the media can increase aggressive tendencies among persons exposed to such content, it seems possible that exposure to violent pornography might also produce such effects.
Effects of Pornography Stronger than that of Media Violence
In fact, because pornography often generates high levels of arousal...it seems possible that such effects might even be stronger than is true for media violence that does not contain sexual content.
Pornography addiction can contribute to depression and symptoms of bipolar disorder in some individuals. Avoid isolation as one step in overcoming pornography addiction.
Although there is currently much less evidence on the issue than on the effects of the media violence generally, some findings suggests that violent pornography may indeed have negative effects. For instance. laboratory studies (Linz, Donnerstein & Penrod, 1988) suggest that exposure to violent pornography can increase men's willingness to aggress against women.
Perhaps even more disturbing, repeated exposure to such materials appears to produce a desensitizing effect, in which emotional reactions to mistreatment or harm to sexual victims is gradually reduced.
Callous attitudes towards sexual violence
Finally, and most unsettling of all, exposure to violent pornography seems to encourage adoption of callous attitudes toward sexual violence, leading both women and men to accept dangerous myths about rape and other forms of sexual violence - for example, the myth that many women unconsciously want to be raped,
or that almost all victims of rape are promiscuous and place themselves in situations in which they are likely to be sexually assaulted (Malamuth & Brown, 1994).
In sum, the growing availability of pornography, and especially pornography that includes themes of sexual violence, appears to be a dangerous trend. No, not all persons who are exposed to such materials become more willing to engage in such behavior themselves, but growing evidence suggests that the mixture of sex and violence such pornography contains can be a dangerous and volatile one.
Can exposure to Violent Pornography Increase Sexual Aggression Even Among Children?
Porn Linked to Young Sex Offenders, Brisbane Australia:
* Sexual assaults perpetrated by children are increasing.
* Internet pornography is one of the main reasons.
* Little has been done to protect children from exposure to violent and extreme pornography. (Michael Flood, research fellow at the Australia Institute, a public policy think tank).
* Exposure to such material---even if its accidental-may be linked to a rise in the number or children sexually abusing other children.
* The number or children sexually harming other children rose dramatically from the early 1990s to 2003, as violent pornography became more common on the Web.
* About 3/4 of 16 and 17 year olds have been exposed to pornographic websites, many carrying scenes of sexual violence
Back to book "Social Psychology":
Children and Acts of Sexual Violence Against Other Children
Although sexual violence toward adults is a very serious matter, such behavior toward children is even more disturbing. And if it is perpetrated by children themselves, it is downright alarming.
A large body of evidence suggests that when children are exposed to scenes of aggression on television or in
, their own tendencies to engage in such behavior are increased (e.g., Anderson et al., 2004).
Children imitate what they watch on
TV, films and in
perhaps to an even greater extent than adults, have a strong tendency to imitate actions another person performs.
And, of course, they are still forming their ideas about what actions are and are not acceptable. When exposed to scenes of violent pornography, children not only learn new ways of harming others---actions involving various forms of sexual abuse-they also learn that such behaviors are condoned by at least some adults.
It is little wonder, then, that they become more likely to perform such actions themselves.
What Can be Done to Reduce Problem of Child Exposure to Pornography
Several possibilities exist to protect children:
Parents need to educate and protect children who use the Internet. Photo: Nevit Dilmen
Making it more difficult fo children to log onto pornographic sites.
Equipping computers with
special filters that block such materials.
Urging parents to place computers in locations where they can readily see what their children are watching).
The main responsibility for protecting children form exposure to violent pornography must rest with parents and other guardians.
Only to the extent they take this responsibility to heart, can individual children--and society in general---be sheltered from the harmful effects produce by a volatile mixture of sexual and violent content.
Source of Pornography Effects page from:
Baron/Byrne, SOCIAL PSYCHOLOGY, "Violent Pornography: When Sex and Aggression Mix--And Perhaps Explode" pp. 430-431, copyright 2006 Allyn & Bacon Reprinted by permission of Pearson Education, Inc.
Social Psychology-MyPsychLab-Rober Baron
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