A Historical and Empirical Review of Pornography and Romantic Relationships: Implications for Family Researchers (2015)

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Kyler Rasmussen*

Journal of Family Theory & Review

Volume 8, Issue 2, pages 173–191, June 2016

1 JUN 2016 DOI: 10.1111/jftr.12141

This article provides a broad overview of pornography's effects on romantic relationships since the late 1960s, examining the literature through the family impact lens and focusing on pornography's potential influence on relational stability. Pornography's effects are relevant for consumers, public officials, and family scholars concerned with the stability of committed relationships. In particular, findings suggest that pornography can reduce satisfaction with partners and relationships through contrast effects, reduce commitment by increasing the appeal of relationship alternatives, and increase acceptance of infidelity. Evidence connecting pornography to rape or sexual aggression remains mixed, although these effects continue to have important implications for how romantic partners interact. The theoretical perspectives underlying these effects are discussed.


  • Family impact;
  • pornography;
  • rape;
  • romantic relationships;
  • sexism