Pornography: Research Advances and Policy Considerations

By Dolf Zillmann; Jennings Bryant | Go to book overview

5
Effects of Prolonged Consumption of Pornography

Dolf Zillmann University of Alabama

Most experimental investigations of the behavioral consequences of exposure to graphic portrayals of sexual activities have employed a research paradigm in which (a) subjects consume pornographic stimuli just once and (b) any effects are ascertained more or less immediately thereafter (cf. Donnerstein, 1984b; Malamuth, 1984; Sapolsky, 1984; Zillmann, 1984). This paradigm has much to recommend itself and is particularly suited to the testing of specific proposals concerning the psychological and physiological mediation of known consequences. However, as a means of establishing perceptual, attitudinal, and behavioral changes, especially lasting ones, the paradigm can rightly be questioned. First, many effects of interest may manifest themselves only after repeated exposure to critical stimuli. Second, and equally important, effects may be transient (cf. Berkowitz & Heimer Rogers, 1986; Wyer & Srull, 1981; Zillmann, 1983) and without consequence for later behavior. In establishing perceptual, attitudinal, and behavioral consequences of the consumption of pornography, then, it would seem imperative to employ designs that accomplish (a) repeated exposure with between-exposure intervals that simulate characteristic consumption patterns and (b) delayed assessments of effects with an interval between consumption and effects that rules out that the

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