A Historical and Empirical Review of Pornography and Romantic Relationships: Implications for Family Researchers

AUTHOR(S)

PUBLISHED

2016 in Journal of Family Theory & Review, Vol. 8(2), pp. 173-191

KEY FINDINGS
  • This review article found that dozens of studies have shown that that pornography can reduce relationship satisfaction.
  • This review article found that multiple studies have shown that pornography use reduces couple commitment.
  • Pornography was found to increase the acceptance of infidelity.
ABSTRACT
This article provides a broad overview of pornography's effects on romantic relationships since the late 1960s, examining the literature through the family impact lens and focusing on pornography's potential influence on relational stability. Pornography's effects are relevant for consumers, public officials, and family scholars concerned with the stability of committed relationships. In particular, findings suggest that pornography can reduce satisfaction with partners and relationships through contrast effects, reduce... READ FULL ABSTRACT
EXCERPTS
  • "The evidence for pornography's influence on the stability of romantic and committed relationships is strong. The effects described are grounded in established theory and operate through well‐defined processes, and the data produce remarkable agreement. Social learning theory (Bandura, 2011) suggests that as pornography consumers watch acts of aggression and violence or view sexist or degrading portrayals, they can adopt attitudes supportive of those behaviors and learn to enact them with their own partners (although they may also learn more varied sexual techniques in the process). Similarly, pornography may inform sexual scripts that increase the likelihood of infidelity (Braithwaite et al., 2014), and consumers may unfairly compare their romantic partners or their own relationships to those they see in pornography (Zillmann & Bryant, 1988b) or perceive those outside the relationship as better able to fill sexual needs (Gwinn et al., 2013). Taken together, these effects have the potential to be problematic in the context of a committed romantic relationship (Schneider, 2000) and may increase the likelihood of divorce (Shumway & Daines, 2012)."
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