Media, Children, and the Family: Social Scientific, Psychodynamic, and Clinical Perspectives

By Dolf Zillmann; Jennings Bryant et al. | Go to book overview

21
RESEARCH, PUBLIC POLICY, AND LAW: COMBINATION FOR CHANGE

Robert Showers
National Law Center for Children and Families, Fairfax, VA


TRENDS IN RESEARCH ON THE EFFECTS OF PORNOGRAPHY

Rarely can scientific results of research be effectively explained and understood in ways to influence law and public policy directly on controversial social issues. However, research has increasingly been utilized successfully to affect public opinion and law changes in the area of pornography, sexual exploitation, and violence in the media.

Initially, scientific research was put forward by the 1970 Commission on Pornography to justify their recommendations to legalize virtually all pornography and violent depictions in all media ( Report, 1970). Research allegedly found that such pornography had either no adverse effects, or a cathartic impact on attitudes and behavior ( Report, 1970; Zillmann, 1989).1

However, by the late 1970s and early 1980s, the Report's conclusions, which were overwhelmingly rejected by Congress and the President, were

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1
From the outset, it was clear that its verdict of "no ill effects" was based on few and tentative findings, many of which were lately generated by the Commission itself to justify its biased conclusions.

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