Influence of popular erotica on judgments of strangers and mates (1989)

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Journal of Experimental Social Psychology

Volume 25, Issue 2, March 1989, Pages 159–167


Two studies were done to investigate the influence of exposure to centerfold erotica on sexual attraction judgments.

In Experiment 1, college students judged a photograph of a nude female after being exposed either to control stimuli (abstract art or other average nudes) or to photographs taken from popular erotic magazines. The target was judged as less sexually attractive after subjects had been exposed to popular erotica. Male and female subjects showed parallel patterns of attraction ratings.

In Experiment 2, male and female subjects were exposed to opposite sex erotica. In the second study, there was an interaction of subject sex with stimulus condition upon sexual attraction ratings. Decremental effects of centerfold exposure were found only for male subjects exposed to female nudes. Males who found the Playboy-type centerfolds more pleasant rated themselves as less in love with their wives. Results are discussed in light of general gender differences in sexual behavior, and are related to the current controversy about pornography.