Age Of First Exposure To Porn Molds Men’s View Of Women, Study Finds

WASHINGTON — What may be considered an eye-opening coming of age for young boys may actually be harming them more than some parents might believe. A new study conducted by researchers at the University of Nebraska discovers that a man’s attitude towards women is negatively shaped from the first time he is exposed to pornography.

The findings, however, were significantly different depending on the age the children first watched.

Porn, sex
A new study found that a man’s attitude towards women is negatively shaped from the first time he is exposed to pornography.

“The goal of our study was to examine how age of first exposure to pornography, and the nature of said first exposure, predicts conformity to two masculine norms: playboy – or sexually promiscuous behavior – and seeking power over women,” says researcher Alyssa Bischmann, a doctoral student at the university, in a press release.

The research team surveyed 330 undergraduate men, ages 17 to 54. Eighty-five percent of the men were white and ninety-three percent of them were heterosexual.

The men were asked two questions about the first time they watched pornography: what age they were and whether it intentional, accidental or forced. Then, the men had to answer a series of 46 questions that were designed to determine the two masculine norms (playboy and seeking power oven women) the researchers were focusing on.

Their findings confirmed their expectation that men would behavior more aggressively and dominant towards women when they first watched pornography at a young age. Conversely, the older a man was when he first watched pornography, the more likely he would want to engage in promiscuous behavior.

“They want to live up to the norms that they see in porn and so sex becomes a more negative experience,” says Bischmann. “Men who saw porn later in life may not feel the same pressure and so may feel more confident about having sex with more women.’

Overall, the answers from the men concluded that 13 was the average age to encounter porn for the first time. The youngest was surprisingly as early as 5, and the oldest over 26. While six percent of the men did not indicate how it happened, most of the men’s first exposure was accidental (43.5 percent), then intentional (33.4 percent) ending with forced (17.2 percent).

Bischmann also mentioned that the findings may be linked to factors that they did not take into consideration for this study such as the participants’ religious beliefs, sexual performance anxiety, negative sexual experiences or whether the first pornography exposure experience was positive or negative.

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“The most interesting finding from this study was that older age at first exposure predicted greater adherence to the playboy masculine norms. That finding has sparked many more questions and potential research ideas because it was so unexpected based on what we know about gender role socialization and media exposure,” says co-author Chrissy Richardson.

Pornography is long considered by many to fall on that list of “wrongs” that one shouldn’t engage with. However, we are seldom educated about why (or if) it is wrong. Dopamine, the chemical that is associated with pleasure, drives us to return to what gave us that pleasurable feeling before (in this case, porn). This is not a healthy dopamine rush, researchers say, as it sets unrealistic and degrading attitudes about sex that can be seriously detrimental to intimate relationships in real life.

Richardson suggests that their research can assist with the treatment of emotional and social issues young heterosexual men have who view pornography (there has been research concerning sexual anorexia in young men who watch porn) as well as help organize sexual assault prevention programs and education.

This latest research was presented at the 125th Annual Convention of the American Psychological Association.

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