Pornography and Censorship

By David Copp; Susan Wendell | Go to book overview
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measure predictive of important arousal and cognitive-attitudinal responses ( Malamuth et al., 1980, a). The similar correlation obtained overall between the rape-criterion passage (Phase 2) and self-reported rape proclivity is consistent with these data in that raters' judgments of this story were virtually identical to those of the rape-abhorrence passage.

In light of the fact that the relationship between sexual arousal to sexual violence and proclivity to rape was significant for self-reported arousal but not for penile tumescence, it may be hypothesized that a self-perception process ( Bem, 1972) mediates this relationship. A subject who perceives that he is aroused to portrayals of sexual violence, irrespective of whether corresponding tumescence changes occur, may infer that he would be sexually aroused by an actual assault. The inferences drawn from such selfperceived arousal merit further examination in that they may not only help account for the relationship with self-reported proclivity to rape, but also for the development of the motivation to actually commit acts of sexual assault, an area that is presently totally devoid of any empirical research.

Portions of this paper were presented at the Annual Convention of the Canadian Psychological Association, Quebec City, June 1979. This project was supported by a grant from the University of Manitoba Research Grants Committee. The authors would like to thank Kathleen DeLeon for serving as the female experimenter, Heather Mullen for conducting the validation study, and Phil Gerson and Les Bell for technical assistance in the development of the mechanical instruments. Requests for reprints should be addressed to N. Malamuth, Dept. of Psychology, University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, Man. R3T 2N2, Canada.
As indicated below, a strong statement concerning the absolute falsehood of such depictions and the true horror of rape was given to all subjects (in both the validation study and the experiment) following exposure. Recent data ( Malamuth and Check, Note 4; Donnerstein, Note 5) indicates that such debriefings are effective in counteracting any possible adverse effects of exposure to sexually violent depictions. Moreover, these studies indicate that the experience of exposure to rape portrayals followed by a debriefing results in less acceptance of rape myths than control subjects on assessments conducted days or weeks following exposure.
The questionnaires consisted of the 16-item rape questionnaire described above as well as a postexperimental questionnaire. The latter questionnaire was designed to determine whether any subjects were aware of the hypothesis regarding the effects of exposure in Phase 1 on reactions to the rape criterion story presented in Phase 2. Subjects were asked if they had heard anything about the experiment and what they felt psychologists could learn from an experiment of this sort. No one indicated any awareness of the prior exposure hypothesis, and so all 75 subjects were included in the analyses.
There are slight variations in the degrees of freedom reported due to a few instances of missing data for the physiological measure at either phase 1 or phase 2. These were due to mechanical failure.


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