Exploring the effect of sexually explicit material on the sexual beliefs, understanding and practices of young men: A qualitative survey

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Comments: Research from the University of the West of England on the effects of exposure to extreme porn on adolescent males and their sexual attitudes and behaviours. Excerpts:

  • Research into levels of SEM consumption have suggested a range of potential negative effects include; encouragement of sexual violence; objectification of women; earlier sexual debut; risky sexual behaviour and sexual harassment.
  • Consumption and acceptance SEM was reported as growing, as confirmed in other research, including more extreme content as  adolescents reported becoming desensitised to SEM content, requiring evermore extreme exposure in order to feel stimulated or shocked. 
  • Young men in this study themselves raised the possibility that SEM exposure may lead to an addiction model of consumption with increasing need for more extreme content. Some report feeling the need to constantly push their boundaries for stimulation, with individuals no longer being shocked by some content, a pattern found in previous research linking it to  premature sexual experiences; objectification of females, unrealistic expectations and  increased incidence of sexual harassment.

Link to full study Charles, P. and Meyrick, J. (2016) Exploring the effect of sexually explicit material on the sexual beliefs, understanding and practices of young men: A qualitative survey. Other. House of Commons, Hansard. Available from: University of the West of England (http://eprints.uwe.ac.uk/29372) Journal of Sex Research (2016)

Abstract/Description

Purpose

Research suggests that exposure to Sexually Explicit Material (SEM) has negative effects on the beliefs, attitudes and actions of adolescents, but little research has examines how this may happen. The objective of this study was to address this emerging issue and explore the effect of exposure to SEM on adolescent males in society today in order to build new theory around this gap in the UK literature.

Method

A sample of participants of males aged between 18 – 25 were recruited within one workplace. Of 40 invited, 11 responded to a qualitative survey. Data analysed for themes.

Results and Conclusions

Findings suggest that the key themes are:- increased levels of availability of SEM, including an escalation in extreme content (Everywhere You Look) which are seen by young men in this study as having negative effects on sexual attitudes and behaviours (That's Not Good). Family or sex education may offer some ‘protection’ (Buffers) to the norms young people see in SEM. Data suggests confused views (Real verses Fantasy) around adolescents’ expectations of a healthy sex life (Healthy Sex Life) and appropriate beliefs and behaviours (Knowing Right from Wrong). A potential causal pathway is described and areas of intervention highlighted.