Pornography and the structuring of information about men and women
Johnson, Anne E.
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Psychological research indicates that violent pornography increases laboratory aggression towards women and affects beliefs and attitudes (e.g., sexual callousness, and perceptions of female sexual permissiveness). In addition to influencing attitudes and beliefs, pornography may also influence sex-role stereotypes about men and women. In an effort to examine the relationship between sex-role stereotyping and exposure to pornography, two studies were conducted. In Study 1, 225 male and female undergraduate students were given a 98-item questionnaire in order to develop an instrument to assess exposure to pornography. The resulting 29-item scale, the Experience with Sexual Materials Questionnaire (ESMQ), was employed in Study 2. Study 2 attempted to determine whether those with a greater degree of exposure to pornography were more likely to view women as less diverse a group (the out-group homogeneity effect) than those with little exposure to pornography. In this study, 204 male subjects were asked to estimate the percentages of either men or women who would endorse 45 stereotypically masculine or feminine statements. They were then given the ESMQ. The hypothesized out-group homogeneity effect was not obtained. However, the findings revealed that High Exposure men believed that higher percentages of both sexes would endorse more same-sex items than Low Exposure men believed. Thus, High Exposure men demonstrated a greater out-group homogeneity effect with respect to same- sex traits. That is, they expected the out-group (women) to possess more same-sex traits than they expected the in-group (men) to possess. Neither High nor Low Exposure men evidenced an out-group homogeneity effect with regard to opposite-sex items. Possible interpretations for these results are discussed, including the possibility that men who frequently view sexual materials are less likely to readjust sex-role stereotypes when they observe opposite- sex behaviors in others. Limits of the current research include the inability to attribute causality and the need for an older, more diverse sample.