Pornography may damage men’s view of women less than previously thought – study

Scientists at Abertay University in Dundee found that ‘much greater nuance’ was required when considering the effects of pornography.

Watching pornography may not be as detrimental to how men view romantic partners as was widely believed, researchers at a Scottish university have found (Yui Mok/PA)
Watching pornography may not be as detrimental to how men view romantic partners as was widely believed, researchers at a Scottish university have found (Yui Mok/PA)

Watching pornography may not be as detrimental to how men view romantic partners as was widely believed, researchers at a Scottish university have found.

The study was done entirely by Abertay University researchers in Dundee and found that “much greater nuance” was required when considering the real effect of pornography on relationships which contradicts widespread claims that pornography usage can impact men’s ability to form or sustain relationships.

No external funding was awarded for the project.

Experts tested the Coolidge effect, a theory that states the introduction of potential new love interests increases arousal in males.

Participants in the study were asked to look at a series of pornographic actresses either clothed, nude or engaged in sexual intercourse.

What these findings suggest is that while sexual arousal induced via pornography plays some role in men’s attractiveness judgements of women, it is far from a simple ‘stimulus-response’ relationship where some would suggest that watching porn has a universally negative impact on how men view other women

Dr Christopher Watkins

They were then asked to rate the attractiveness of other women from a series of stock images including images they had not seen before and images they had seen at the beginning of the experiment.

Researchers found that looking at pornographic actresses reduced the attractiveness of familiar women’s bodies, but not their faces.

The same judgement was found in heterosexual and homosexual participants suggesting sexual arousal was not the main reason for the change in rating.

Lead author Dr Christopher Watkins, Head of Division of Psychology and Forensic Sciences, said: “What these findings suggest is that while sexual arousal induced via pornography plays some role in men’s attractiveness judgments of women, it is far from a simple stimulus-response relationship where some would suggest that watching porn has a universally negative impact on how men view other women.

“Future research could explore these same effects in women and how porn consumption may influence attractiveness judgments over a long time period, and how the personality traits of the person viewing pornography also matter.”

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