The effect of pornography on sexual behavior Melissa Lindenbach Psychology 290 May 28, 2008
Effects of pornography
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Pornographic material is utilized by a wide variety of people in society today. Some people view it for acute stimulation, some view it to satisfy an addiction, and others use it as a springboard for their sexual fantasies. Regardless of its use, pornography is dangerous to a person’s mental, emotional, and physical health as the level of stimulation a person achieves is very powerful. Unfortunately, once a person becomes captivated by the material it is only a
matter of time before “pornography becomes the theory and rape becomes the practice” (Corley, 2006, p. 127). As such, it is apparent sexuality and sexual behaviour has moved into an era of objectivity and corruption with the progression of society. The original definition of pornography encompassed any work of art or literature dealing with sex and sexual themes. Today, the Attorney General Commission of Pornography defines pornography as “any material that is predominantly sexually explicit and intended primarily for the purpose of sexual arousal” (McGEADY, 2000, para. 1). The following research explores the cause and effects of pornography in relation to four sexual behavioural trends including: altered attitude, the change in sexual expectations, desensitization of sexual activity, and the correlation with sexual crimes. These behavioural trends have been supported by various research and theories. Dr. Victor B. Cline, a psychologist at the University of Utah with a private practice specializing in family marital counselling and sexual addiction, reports a four-phase syndrome that all of his clients experienced throughout their pornographic experiences. These four stages include: addiction, escalation, desensitization, and acting out sexually. The addiction and escalation stages alternate until the subject becomes desensitized to the material. When the subject desensitized, major problems such as rape and violence begin to develop. As such, extensive research regarding the effects of desensitization and sex crimes has been conducted by Dr. Cline and other specialists. Because of the wide
Effects of pornography
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variety of research available, desensitization and the correlation with sex crimes has been classified as major headings in this paper. Studies have shown that a variety of degrees of behavioural modifications which all begin with the same starting point - an altered attitude towards sexual practices. I) Altered Attitudes Pornography, and its underlying messages, has proven to alter one’s attitude towards sexual practices. These alterations can encourage behaviour that can harm individual users and their families (Weiten, 2001, p. 396). Zillmann and Bryant (1984) conducted an experiment using undergraduate students to measure the effects of pornography on sexual behaviour. They found the majority of students developed a liberal attitude towards sexual practices (i.e. premarital, casual, and experimental sex) after being exposed to pornography on a regular basis (three or six films per week for six weeks). Students also reported a change in affection toward their significant others and themselves (Weiten, 2001). This topic will be further explored in the discussion of unrealistic expectations caused by pornography. As the content of pornography has evolved and become a greater catalyst within society, there has also been an increase in premarital and casual sex. An article published by Public Health Reports (2002) revealed that seventy-five percent of women had engaged in premarital sex by the time they were twenty years old, and ninety-five percent of women by the time they were forty-four years old (Warner, 2006). When you compare these results to Zillmann’s and Bryant’s findings, one can conclude that as pornography consumption has become more acceptable, so has the liberality of...