Study: Porn Has Small Effect on Sexual Behavior

Apr 25, 2013 4:30 PM PST

WASHINGTON — A new study shows that viewing sexually explicit content on websites may not influence whether a young adult will have risky sex or lots of partners.

According to a report released in the Journal of Sexual Medicine, watching porn only affects sexual behavior in a negligible way. Other influences such as personality type, educational and family background and poverty hold more girth than viewing sexually explicit material.

The study, led by Gert Martin Hald of the Department of Public Health at the University of Copenhagen,  found that 88 percent of the young men and 45 percent of young women had viewed sexually explicit media over the past 12 months.

They surveyed 4,600 young people between the ages of 15 and 25 living in the Netherlands during 2008-2009. Sexual behaviors were broken down  into three areas — adventurous sex like threesomes or sex with someone met online; partner experience, such as one-night stands; and transactional sex, involving payment for sex

Increased viewing of  porn was associated with a greater likelihood that young adults would say “yes” to one or more of these behaviors.  

"Our data suggest that other factors such as personal dispositions -- specifically sexual sensation seeking -- rather than consumption of sexually explicit material  may play a more important role in a range of sexual behaviors of adolescents and young adults, and that the effects of sexually explicit media on sexual behaviors in reality need to be considered in conjunction with such factors," Hald said in a press release.

The study was funded by the Netherlands Organization for Health Research and Development.

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