Academic journal article The Canadian Journal of Human Sexuality

Pornography Consumption and Its Association with Sexual Concerns and Expectations among Young Men and Women

Academic journal article The Canadian Journal of Human Sexuality

Pornography Consumption and Its Association with Sexual Concerns and Expectations among Young Men and Women

Article excerpt

The often narrow representations of sexual performance and physical attractiveness in pornography may be linked to sexual concerns and sexual expectations among young men and women (e.g., body- and performance-related sexual distractions, negative genital self-image, expectations of one's partner). Investigation of the relations between these constructs is needed to assess the potential impact of pornography on young adult's sexual lives. Undergraduate men (n = 333) and women (n = 668) completed an online survey assessing pornography viewership, body- and performance-related cognitive distractions during sexual activity, genital self-image, and pornography-based partner expectations. Multivariate regression analyses revealed that visual pornography viewership was uniquely associated with higher partner performance expectations among women. Among men, visual pornography viewership was uniquely associated with body- and performance-related cognitive distractions during sexual activity. Literary pornography use was not uniquely associated with these variables among men or women. The results of this investigation suggest that individuals who consume visual pornography may experience some forms of sexual insecurity and sexual expectations related to their pornography use. Importantly, many sexual concerns were unrelated to pornography consumption, which is consistent with research in favour of pornography consumption as a healthy sexual outlet for young adults.

KEY WORDS: Body image, cognitive distractions during sexual activity, genital self-image, partner expectations, pornography, sexual body esteem, sexual insecurities, sexually explicit material

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Pornography consumption has increased in recent years, in part because of the convenience and privacy of sexually explicit material (SEM) made available through the Internet (Cooper, 2004; Daneback, Mansson, & Ross, 2012; Wright, 2013). Although benefits resulting from pornography consumption have been demonstrated (Morgan, 2011; Stulhofer, Busko, & Landripet, 2010; Traeen, Nilson, & Stigum, 2006), most previous research has focused on the link between SEM exposure and a variety of negative outcomes, such as risky sexual behaviours and sexual dissatisfaction (e.g., Wright, 2012; Wright, 2013; Wright & Randall, 2012; Wright, Tokunaga, & Bae, 2014). However, the impact of pornography use on other aspects of sexuality, such as body- and performance-related concerns, genital self-image, and expectations of one's sexual partner has remained largely unexplored.

Unrealistic portrayals of physical attractiveness and sexual performance that can be represented in pornography have the potential to induce body insecurities and performance concerns that are known to adversely impact sexual well-being. Unfortunately, only a small body of literature has considered the potential impact of SEM consumption on these types of sexual concerns. Furthermore, no investigations have examined whether pornography consumption is linked to higher sexual performance- and appearance-based expectations of one's partner. Moreover, with only a few exceptions (Rosser, Wilkerson, Grey, Iantaffi, & Smolenski, 2011; Stein, Silvera, Hagerty, & Marmor, 2012), extant research has focused exclusively on visual pornography viewing frequency as the sole predictor variable, neglecting to capture the influence of literary pornographic exposure. This is an important omission since it is possible that visual and literary SEM consumption could have differential impacts on sexual outcomes. For example, it is likely that visual pornography has a greater impact on appearance-related sexual insecurities due to the salience of physical appearance compared to literary pornography (Hald, 2006; Lykins, Meana, & Strauss, 2008). In addition, pornographic modality is important to consider when examining gender differences, since women are more frequent consumers of literary pornography than men and men are more frequent consumers of visual pornography than women (Carroll et al. …

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