Academic journal article International Journal of Cyber Society and Education

To View or Not to View: The Influence of Social Networks and Subjective Norms on Online Pornography Consumption

Academic journal article International Journal of Cyber Society and Education

To View or Not to View: The Influence of Social Networks and Subjective Norms on Online Pornography Consumption

Article excerpt

ABSTRACT

This study investigates the influence of social networks and subjective norms on an individual's online pornography consumption. The empirical survey results of 324 voluntary participants indicated that the individual's positive outcome evaluation was associated with a higher level of online pornography exposure. Social pressure also plays a significant, but negative, role in one's viewing decision.

Keywords: Online Pornography, Subjective Norm, Theory of Reasoned Action

INTRODUCTION

The effects of pornography exposure on individuals have been widely studied and yet highly debated (Malamuth, Addison, & Koss, 2000). The factors that may determine an individual's pornography consumption, however, have not been fully explored. With the rise of abundant, sexually explicit materials on the internet, we ask: are online pornography viewers any different from non-viewers in terms of their beliefs, attitudes, and media use? What are some of the factors that may influence an individual's online pornography exposure?

The theory of reasoned action (Ajzen & Fishbein, 1980) stipulates that behaviors, or behavioral intentions, can be predicted by an individual's attitudes and subjective norms. Attitudes, or a person's positive or negative feelings toward the relevant subject matter, can be defined by two variables: behavioral beliefs, which are the perceived consequences of a certain behavior, and the personal outcome evaluation of those consequences. Subjective norms can be defined as a person's perceived social pressures to think or behave in a certain way. In addition, past research suggests that social networks affect an individual's social and interpersonal behaviours (Berkman, Glass, Brissete, & Seeman, 2000) and impact significantly on the psychological health of individuals (Zunzunegui, Alvarado, Teodoro, & Otero, 2003). Hence, this study seeks to uncover the influence of subjective norms, behavioral outcome evaluation, and social networks on an individual's online pornography consumption.

METHODOLOGY

Data were collected through an online survey in 2008. Survey links were posted in most popular online forums in Hong Kong, where the researchers were based, as well as University Bulletin Boards (BBS). A total of 324 respondents to our survey were included in our analysis.

In the survey, we included demographic variables, media use, internet pornography exposure, as well as key variables such as subjective norms, behavioral outcome evaluation, and social networks. Internet pornography exposure was measured by asking respondents to indicate how often they had viewed sexually explicit materials. Subjective norms were measured by the awareness of viewing internet pornography by families or friends. Behavioral outcome evaluations were measured by their satisfaction of viewing pornographic materials online. Social networks were measured by the number of close family members or friends one reported to have. …

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