Study: Employees Who Watch Porn More Likely To Behave Unethically At Work

PROVO, UTAH — Whether or not a person watches pornography is typically considered a wholly personal and private issue. However, a new study out of Brigham Young University finds that employees who watch porn are much more likely to act unethically at work, potentially costing their employers time and money.

“Pornography is often framed as an issue affecting only individuals and relationships outside of a business context,” explains study co-author Melissa Lewis-Western in a release. “But businesses are made up of people, and people make decisions, and businesses function off the decisions people make. If you have a societal phenomenon that a lot of people are participating in and it negatively impacts individuals’ decisions, that has the potential to impact organizational-level outcomes.”

To come to their conclusions, researchers analyzed a nationally-representative survey of 1,000 people, and conducted their own experiment with 200 participants.

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For the experiment, a variable group was asked to remember and record their last time watching porn, while a control group was asked to write down the last time they exercised. Then, both groups were asked to watch a purposely boring 10-minute video consisting of nothing but a blue background and robotic voice.

Researchers found that 21% of those who had remembered the last time they watched porn didn’t finish the boring video, but lied and said they did. Conversely, only 8% of those in the exercise control group lied about finishing the video. These results indicate a 163% increase in skipping out on responsibilities and dishonesty.

The study also found that this propensity for unethical behavior among porn viewers is caused by a tendency to dehumanize other people and view them as mere objects, much like the actors and actresses in porn videos.

According to the study’s authors, this tendency to see people as usable objects is very likely to lead to increased sexual harassment and hostile work environment incidents among employees.

Researchers also believe that employees who watch pornography at work are even more likely to display unethical behavior. Watching pornography on the job is a behavior that happens far more often than most employers probably realize; a recent 2018 survey of 2,000 men and women saw almost 60% of its respondents admitting to watching porn at work at least once.

“Regardless of your stance on pornography, most people want to be good employees, they want to be fair to men and women and they don’t want to be unethical. That’s where we need to start the conversation. We need to refrain from viewing pornography to create work environments that are inclusive to all,” Lewis-Western comments. “Almost everyone cares about the #MeToo movement and women, but if you care about that, then you have to care about this issue too.”

The study is published in the Journal of Business Ethics. 

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