Correlations on porn

by on March 9, 2012 at 7:12 am in Data Source, Film, Law | Permalink

From Garth Zietsman:

Firstly (using the General Social Survey) I found no relationship between being pro the legality of porn, or propensity to watch porn, and pro social behaviors e.g. volunteer work, blood donation, etc.

We can dismiss the feminist (and sociological) charges of porn increasing sexual violence and leading to sexism. The USA, Sweden, Germany, Netherlands (2) and Japan were just some of the countries that suddenly went from no legal pornography to quite widespread availability and consumption of it. These studies all found that greater availability of, and exposure to, pornography does not increase the rate of sexual assaults on women, and probably decreases it (3). Japanese porn is quite frequently violent and yet even there rape decreased from an already very low base. It’s interesting that an increase in porn exposure decreases sexual violence only, and has no effect on other crime. Economists would put this down to a substitution effect.

Several countries have sex offender registers – mainly of pedophiles. A wide variety of professions are represented on these registers. Members of professions that supposedly promote morality e.g. clerics or teachers, are quite common on it yet conspicuously absent from such registers are men who have worked in the porn industry.

This study (1) found no relationship between the frequency of x-rated film viewing and attitudes toward women or feminism. From the GSS (controlling for IQ, education, income, age, race and ideology) I found that those who are pro the legality of porn are less likely to support traditional female roles, more likely to be against preferential treatment of either gender, and to find woman’s rights issues more frequently salient. Although I found that women’s rights issues are less salient to male watchers, and female watchers are less likely to think women should work, I also found that watching porn is unrelated to negative attitudes toward women and feminism.

In short exposure to and tolerance of pornography does not cause anti-social behavior (and may even reduce it in relation to sex) and does not get in the way of pro social behavior either.

The sociological and religious charge that pornography undermines monogamy and family values does however receive support. From GSS (and controlling for IQ, education, income, age, race and ideology) I found that men who are pro legalizing porn are less likely to marry and are more pro cohabitation. There was no such association for women. A higher propensity to watch porn movies is also associated with a lesser likelihood of marrying but is unrelated to cohabitation attitudes – in both men and women. So a pro porn attitude is consistent with a reduced respect for marriage.

Both genders also tend to have fewer kids in marriage, if they are pro the legalizing of porn. However, for men, a higher propensity to watch porn movies is associated with having MORE children within marriage. Note that pro legal porn attitudes and porn movie viewership is not associated with having children out of wedlock – for men its associated with a lower chance of that happening – so porn doesn’t lead to that kind of irresponsible behavior.

Possibly part of this general pattern, I found that both being pro the legality of porn and watching porn are related to lower voting rates in general elections.

I found no relationship to a variety of ‘family values’ type questions e.g. importance of family, or to the value of relationships and friendship.

Being pro the legality of porn, and porn viewing, are associated with unhappiness with the family or marriage – especially for men. Those who are pro porn also tend to have a greater number of sexual partners and are more likely to have a sexual affair. This supports the 1984 and 1988 discoveries of Dolf Zillman and Jennings Bryant (4) that the effects of repeated exposure to standard, non-violent, commonly available pornography includes: increased callousness toward women; distorted perceptions about sexuality; devaluation of the importance of monogamy; decreased satisfaction with partner’s sexual performance, affection, and appearance; doubts about the value of marriage; and decreased desire to have children. Later research studies further confirm their findings.

Garth’s excellent and underrated blog is here.  I have put it in my RSS feed.

Enrique March 9, 2012 at 8:07 am

I thought surveys, being merely reports of one’s preferences, were a weak of not a worthless form evidence (“cheap talk”)

Rahul March 9, 2012 at 9:56 am

A flaw in this analysis is that it is more likely tracking the traits of those willing to admit they watch, than of those that watch. The first subset is only a small part of the second I suspect.

Tim March 9, 2012 at 8:19 am

Does the author discuss gay porn at all?

Peter March 9, 2012 at 8:45 am

Given the dismal fact that the Hideous Pedophilic Bald Eagle is nearly universal, I am certain that porn must at a very minimum encourage wrongful thoughts about children.

guy March 9, 2012 at 8:56 am

And all guys that shave their heads have a baby fetish…I’m not a fan either but I think its mostly about fashion and hygiene.

Peter March 9, 2012 at 10:04 am

It doesn’t contribute to hygiene. There is evidence that a nice thatch limits chafing and offers some protection against infection, both of which obviously are concerns in the porn industry.

One thing that never ceases to perplex me is how this type of porn-inspired “fashion” has become nearly universal even among women who have no use for porn. A 40ish, Republican-voting, church-going, minivan-driving soccer mom who thinks porn is abhorrent will nonetheless make very sure that she does not have a single remaining hair follicle.

Jeff Schnitzer March 9, 2012 at 10:17 am

I’m pretty sure the ASPS would not be perplexed by this phenomenon.

Careless March 9, 2012 at 11:04 am

Know a lot of women who shave their armpits? Legs? Women removing their body hair looks like a pretty solid trend in the modern world.

axa March 9, 2012 at 1:36 pm

hahahahhaha, did you know that muslim women shave cause of purity and cleanliness?

modern world, what a joke =)

axa March 9, 2012 at 1:51 pm

awesome post and some stupid replys made me google about epilation and found that it a practice way older than “the western modern world”: Sugar Waxing (AKA Persian Waxing). http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sugaring_%28epilation%29 http://parissa.com/catalog/product/persian-cold-wax-400g gotta try this with me and later with my GF, it’s gonna be a great weekend =)

Scrutineer March 9, 2012 at 4:36 pm

Peter, other people make the opposite association.

John S. March 9, 2012 at 8:56 am

Excellent! Sure to offend feminists, conservatives and other nags.

Anon. March 9, 2012 at 9:29 am

Two birds with one stone, so to speak. Excellent, indeed!

Yancey Ward March 9, 2012 at 11:33 am

+1

Bill March 9, 2012 at 9:18 am

In cataloging the effects of online pornography on young males, I think the author missed one important effect on a teenager: introducing young males to the intricacies of computer operating systems and how to use the internet.

Yancey Ward March 9, 2012 at 11:37 am

Yep. When I was growing up, I and my friends learned the valuable skills of finding the most well-hidden places in our parents’ homes and dads’ workshops. Today’s boys can hack a parental control in a manner of minutes, but can’t find a damned thing in a closet.

marksjo1 March 9, 2012 at 9:24 am

I’m not sure I can follow a blogger who lists his I.Q. score among his qualifications. What next? S.A.T. scores? I hope he’s being ironic.

Frederic Mari March 9, 2012 at 10:58 am

An IQ of 185 would make him one of the biggest geniuses ever to have walked the Earth so I suspect he was exaggerating for effect…

Ted Craig March 9, 2012 at 9:26 am

Throwing in the bit about clerics and others of those type on the offender list is somewhat misleading. That’s called fishing where the fish are.
Also, this isn’t surprising: “However, for men, a higher propensity to watch porn movies is associated with having MORE children within marriage.”

TallDave March 9, 2012 at 9:49 am

Japanese porn is quite frequently violent

Okay, we’re a little behind, but we’re catching up!

Seriously though, consensuality has a somewhat different cultural context over there (hence the saying “rape is like saying hello in Japan”), so I’m not sure how reliable their statistics really are. This is after all a country in which sex slavery was a semi-official practice in WW II.

Careless March 9, 2012 at 9:52 am

Also, this isn’t surprising “However , for men, a higher propensity to watch porn movies is associated with having MORE children within marriage.”

I’d like to see that by number of children. How much of that effect is from zero to one?

Rahul March 9, 2012 at 10:06 am

What’s the Republican-Democrat split about porn? This might be one issue feminists and the religious right agree on.

msgkings March 9, 2012 at 11:23 am
Turkey Vulture March 9, 2012 at 1:05 pm

Wow. Pat Robertson.

ad*m March 9, 2012 at 10:24 am

My IQ may not be 185, but then my penis is 8.1″ long. God protect us from Aspies running our society. After reading through his blog, my preferred IQ for any US president has now dropped from 135 to 125.

Though his post on porn is nice, otherwise he is the best illustration of Charles Murray’s argument in Coming Apart ever. His “Smart Moves” are simply the elite preferences, and I expect him to next show that eugenics and culling of the low IQ people is also a Smart Move.

spike March 9, 2012 at 10:27 am

I don’t see how the author can state this:

“This study (1) found no relationship between the frequency of x-rated film viewing and attitudes toward women or feminism.”

but then state that the study confirms this:

“Being pro the legality of porn, and porn viewing, are associated with unhappiness with the family or marriage – especially for men . . . [t]his supports the 1984 and 1988 discoveries of Dolf Zillman and Jennings Bryant (4) that the effects of repeated exposure to standard, non-violent, commonly available pornography includes: increased callousness toward women; distorted perceptions about sexuality; devaluation of the importance of monogamy; decreased satisfaction with partner’s sexual performance, affection, and appearance; doubts about the value of marriage; and decreased desire to have children.”

How can there both be no relationship b/w porn viewing and attitudes towards women but then a confirmation that repeated exposure to porn increases callousnesses towards women? Seem somewhat plainly contradictory.

Many feminists do support porn. There is not a monolitihic feminism that shares the Dworkin/Mackinnon attitudes about pornography. Though it must be said that this study does confirm one of the critques that anti-porn feminists made about porn, that it increases certain negative attitudes towards women in certain men. Also, the anti-porn feminists of the 80′s were mainly speaking about porn that showed women getting beated, cut, raped, and generally humiliated and even in the portion of the study quoted, the author does make a note that the porn being studied here is “standard, non-violent, commonly available pornography.” If the ‘standard’ kind of porn increases callousness towards women, what does the violent porn do to frequent watchers? Or do the watchers of such violent porn already have exisitng violent/hateful attitudes towards women?

The Original D March 9, 2012 at 10:33 am

Define “callousness.” How callous were Dowrkin et al towards men?

Nick Danger March 9, 2012 at 11:09 am

“In short exposure to and tolerance of pornography does not cause anti-social behavior (and may even reduce it in relation to sex) and does not get in the way of pro social behavior either.”

True, except, you know, for the fact that it does cause anti-social behaviour:

“The sociological and religious charge that pornography undermines monogamy and family values…”

And spike, you’re not getting it: “This study (1) found no relationship between the frequency of x-rated film viewing and attitudes toward women or feminism.” By”attitude toward women” he means things like supporting Title IX and abortion on demand. Once progressives have done that, their obligations to the abstract category “women” are fulfilled, and they can now use all merely *individual* women as sex objects with a clean conscience.

Nick Danger March 9, 2012 at 11:22 am

Holy s*&t, Garth Zietsman is like the drooling moron of statistics worship!

Floccina March 9, 2012 at 11:51 am

The last paragraph show that is a real down side to watching porn.

zatarra March 9, 2012 at 12:03 pm

“We can dismiss the feminist (and sociological) charges of porn increasing sexual violence and leading to sexism.”

I don’t see the point in making this statement. Feminism does not depend on facts or evidence. It is like telling a religious person you have evidence that there is no good. What’s the point?

axa March 9, 2012 at 1:58 pm

discussion is NOT about feminism being rational, it is about porn being legal or not =)

robbl March 9, 2012 at 2:03 pm

So, just so I understand, you dismiss all of feminism and sociology as faith based belief systems? There is no kernel of truth, nothing to understand about reality by studying people who identify there intellectiual tradition as feminists or sociologists?

Realist March 10, 2012 at 5:02 am

Feminism in particular, and sociology in most parts have so much political agenda in their disciplines it’s too much work to sort out all willfully misleading theories and “facts” from genuine interest in forming scientific theories. Economics is almost as bad.

zatarra March 9, 2012 at 12:03 pm

god

D March 9, 2012 at 2:13 pm

“So, just so I understand, you dismiss all of feminism and sociology as faith based belief systems? There is no kernel of truth, nothing to understand about reality by studying people who identify there intellectiual tradition as feminists or sociologists?”

More than enough BS compared to “kernerls of truth” to warrant skepticism, or, in the interest of minimizing opportunity costs, outright ignoring them.

+1 March 10, 2012 at 4:57 am

+1

James March 10, 2012 at 4:21 pm

But what are the stats on visual impairment? ;)

Udson March 11, 2012 at 12:00 pm

Pornography is the head of each one ….

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