A SYSTEMATIC REVIEW OF THE EFFECTS OF AGGRESSIVE AND NONAGGRESSIVE PORNOGRAPHY
John S. Lyons
Rachel L. Anderson
Northwestern University Medical School
David B. Larson
National Institute of Mental Health
Since the 1960s, research on the effects of exposure to sexually explicit materials has been a field of inquiry within the social sciences. Social science research has become a controversial part of federal policyadvising commissions on pornography for two decades. In 1970, the Presidential Commission on Obscenity and Pornography found insufficient evidence that exposure to explicit sexual materials played a significant role in the causation of delinquent or criminal behavior. However, the social science literature on which these claims were based was widely criticized for a failure to include materials of a sexually violent or aggressive nature and a failure to investigate specific effects on violence against women.
In 1986 the Meese Commission reached conflicting conclusions supporting restrictions of pornographic materials, due in part to the changing nature of the content of commercially available pornography and its increased availability ( Brown & Bryant, 1989). However, the report bred considerable controversy as some thought the contentions made were not supported by the empirical evidence ( Donnerstein, Linz, & Penrod 1987).
The Commission Reports are but two of the markers in the debate over sexually explicit materials. The debate over pornography has involved many communities and groups with various orientations. Despite orientation, a