Researchers from the University of Nebraska conducted an experiment to determine how exposure to porn for the first time could shape a man’s views on masculinity and sexuality.
To do so, they handed out a 46-question survey to 330 undergraduate men ages 17 to 54. It was designed to measure masculine norms, and it included questions about the first time males saw pornography and whether or not it was an accident.
On average, respondents said they were about 13 years old when they were first exposed to pornography. More than 43 percent said it was by accident, 33 percent said they sought it out and 17 percent said they were forced to view it. About 6 percent declined to answer.
After analyzing the data, scientists found that men who were exposed to porn for the first time at a younger age mostly agreed with statements that asserted male superiority.
However, those who were older when they were first exposed to pornography and had a “greater endorsement of Playboy masculine norms,” such as having multiple sexual partners.
“We expected that the younger the boys were when first exposed to pornography, the more likely they were to adopt playboy norms as well as norms of masculine power over women,” researcher Alyssa Bischmann said in a statement. “We don’t have a lot of theories that would explain this unexpected inverse relationship between pornography use and playboy norms.”
However, the scientists did note that their experiment didn’t identify other factors, such as negative sexual experiences, performance anxiety, religiosity and frequency of use, which could be related to the surprising results.
Therefore, more research is needed.
“Future research,” the study said, “should also investigate outcomes of these relations by including measures of relationship satisfaction, well-being, and perpetration of violence against women, as these variables may be related to masculine norms and pornography.”