The question: what are the consequences of
continued exposure to pornography on beliefs about sexuality in general
and on attitudes towards women?
80 male and 80 female participants are divided into
Massive Exposure Group: saw 36 short, non-violent
porn films (about 5 hours of film) over six weeks.
Intermediate Exposure Group: saw 18 short,
non-violent porn films and 18 regular films over six weeks.
No Exposure Group: saw 36 regular films.
Control Group: saw no films, not brought in till
the second phase.
Participants read about a rape case and were asked
to recommend a the length of the prison sentence for the rapist.
They were also asked to indicate their support for
the women’s rights movement on a 0 to 100 scale.
Finally, they were asked to estimate the popularity
of various sexual acts among the general population.
In recommending a prison term for a rapist, folks
in the Massive Exposure Group chose, on average, prison terms that were
half as long as terms recommended by the people in the No Exposure
Group. (A five-year sentence versus a ten-year sentence)
When asked to rate their support for women’s
rights, men and women in the Massive Exposure Group indicated about half
as much support as participants in the No Exposure Group. (38% versus
Finally, men and women in the Massive Exposure
Group rated anal sex, group sex, and bestiality at least twice as common
as did the No Exposure Group. (For example, the Massive Exposure Group
estimated that 30% of Americans had group sex, while the No Exposure
Group estimated only 11% did. The Massive Exposure Group also estimated
that 12% of Americans were having sex with animals.)
Conclusion: Zillmann and Bryant conclude that
massive exposure to pornography made rape appear a more trivial offense,
which seemed also to parallel a drop in support for women’s rights. Also,
intensive porn-viewing led to beliefs that unusual sexual acts are far
more common than they really are.