More than a dalliance? Pornography consumption and extramarital sex attitudes among married U.S. adults (2014)

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Wright, Paul J.; Tokunaga, Robert S.; Bae, Soyoung

Psychology of Popular Media Culture, Vol 3(2), Apr 2014, 97-109.

Abstract

Extramarital sex is one of the most commonly cited reasons for divorce. U.S. adults who have more positive extramarital sex attitudes are more likely to engage in extramarital sex. Given pornography’s positive portrayal of extramarital sex, several recent studies have explored whether people who consume pornography have a more positive attitude toward extramarital sex. Consistent correlations have been found, but limitations to inference are posed by the sampling of adolescents and college students and the cross-sectional designs used.

This brief report used national panel data gathered from two separate samples of married U.S. adults. Data were gathered from the first sample in 2006 and in 2008 (N = 282). Data were gathered from the second sample in 2008 and in 2010 (N = 269). Consistent with a social learning perspective on media, prior pornography consumption was correlated with more positive subsequent extramarital sex attitudes in both samples, even after controlling for earlier extramarital sex attitudes and nine additional potential confounds. Contrary to a selective exposure perspective on media, prior extramarital sex attitudes were unrelated to subsequent pornography consumption in both samples.

In total, the results of the present study are consistent with the theoretical premise that pornography consumption leads to the acquisition and activation of sexual scripts, which are then used by many consumers to inform their sexual attitudes (Wright, 2013a; Wright et al., 2012a).

 

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