Pornography and Censorship

By David Copp; Susan Wendell | Go to book overview

Edward Donnerstein


Pornography and Violence Against Women: Experimental Studies

Recently, the National Institute of Mental Health designated that an understanding of the conditions that lead to sexual attacks against women is a major problem area and requires an increased focus. While there are many potential avenues of investigation, one that seems to be of current concern is the role of media effects in the possible elicitation of such aggressive acts, particularly in the area of pornography. Although the 1970 Presidential Commission on Obscenity and Pornography concluded that there was no evidence of a relationship between exposure to erotic forms of presentations and subsequent aggression (particularly sexual crimes), recent criticisms of these findings( Berkowitz, 1971; Cline, 1974; Dienstbier, 1977) *have led a number of investigators to reexamine this issue. Specifically, research by a number of individuals in the social-psychological area has indicated that under appropriate conditions exposure to erotic forms of media presentations can facilitate subsequent aggressive behavior ( Zillmann, 1971; Jaffe, Malamuth, Feingold, and Feshbach, 1974; Donnerstein, E., M. Donnerstein , and R. Evans, 1975; Baron and Bell, 1977; Donnerstein and Barrett, 1978). While this research has been directed at the effects of erotic media presentations on behavior, the issue of whether such presentations can in some manner be related to increased aggressive attacks against women has

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*
Essays cited in this and other articles in Part Two are listed in the Selected Bibliography of Social Scientific Essays.

Reprinted from Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, Vol. 347 ( 1980), pp. 277-288, by permission of the New York Academy of Sciences and the author.

-219-

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