Gender differences in pornography consumption among young heterosexual Danish adults (2006)

Comments: the survey was taken from October 2003, to June 2004. Males, 18-30, average age – 25. In other words, few used high-speed during adlosence, and some may have had no Internet access at all. Yet 98% of males say they had used porn. Results below abstract

Arch Sex Behav. 2006 Oct;35(5):577-85.


Hald GM.


Department of Psychology, University of Aarhus, Jens Chr. Skous Vej 4, Aarhus, C 8000, Denmark. [email protected]


The aims of the study were (1) to investigate gender differences in pornography consumption among Danish adults aged 18-30 and (2) to examine gender differences in situational, interpersonal, and behavioral characteristics of pornography consumption. A national survey study was conducted using a representative sample of 688 young heterosexual Danish adult men and women. The study found large gender differences in prevalence rates of pornography consumption and consumption patterns. Compared to women, men were exposed to pornography at a younger age, consumed more pornography as measured by time and frequency, and used pornography more often during sexual activity on their own. Gender differences in the interpersonal context of use were also evident, with women using pornography more often with a regular sexual partner than men. In turn, men were found to use pornography more often on their own or with friends (non-sexual partners) than women. For both men and women, the usual place of use was home and no significant gender difference was found in this regard. Men and women were found to vary in their preferences in pornographic materials, with men both preferring a wider range of hardcore pornography and less softcore pornography than women. Gender differences in sexual behavioral factors were limited to masturbation patterns with men masturbating more than women. Male gender, higher frequency of masturbation, lower age at first exposure, and younger age were found to account for 48.8% of the total variance of pornography consumption. The results were discussed in relation to the sociocultural environment and evolutionary theory. It is argued that gender differences in social acceptability, adherence to gender stereotypes, traditions of gender sexuality, gender norms, and mating strategies are key factors in understanding gender differences in pornography consumption.


In the current study, for example, a rather “strict” definition of pornography was employed. Sexual materials containing only nudity, such as those seen in Playboy or Penthouse, were not considered pornography. Applying 

MALES: AGES 18-30 (Average age 24.6)

  • ever watched porn = 97.8%
  • within last 6 months = 92%
  • watched it in the last week – 63.4%
  • watched last 24 hrs = 26.2%

A number of studies outside Denmark on the consumption of pornography have revealed large and clearly defined gender differences. Thus, men appear to be more attracted to and consume significantly more pornography than women, be more attracted to hardcore pornography devoid of relationship context and emotional attachments, and generally, although not consistently (see also Fisher & Byrne, 1978), be more psychologically aroused by pornography. In addition, men more than women seem to prefer pornography with many different actors as compared to pornography with the same actors performing different acts (Gardos & Mosher, 1999; Janghorbani, Lam, and The Youth Sexuality Task Force, 2003; Malamuth, 1996; Mosher & MacIan, 1994; Træen, Spitznogle, & Beverfjord, 2004).

Furthermore, with the exception of the studies by Hammar´en and Johansson (2001), Janghorbani et al. (2003), Rogala and Tyd´en (2003), and Træen et al. (2004), all studies of gender differences in pornography consumption have relied on nonrepresentative samples making it problematic to generalize the findings of these studies to the general population.

Compared to women, it was found that men used pornography significantly more often during sexual activity on their own (e.g. masturbation), were exposed to pornography at a significantly younger age, and spent significantly more time per week watching pornography (all p < .001) (Table 3). Large gender differences in preferences in pornographic themes were found. Men were found to prefer to watch anal intercourse, oral sex, group sex (one man—more women), lesbian sex, and amateurs sex significantly more than women. In turn, women were found to prefer watching softcore pornography and group sex (one woman—more men) significantly more than men (all p < .001).


Although some variation in the reported prevalence rates of pornography consumption is evident across studies, comparable international studies have, with few exceptions (e.g., Pan, 1993), reported consumption rates in the range of 86–98% amongst men and 54–85% amongst women (Demar´e, Lips, & Briere, 1993; Gunther, 1995; Hammar´en & Johansson, 2001; Janghorbani et al., 2003; Li & Michael, 1996; Perse, 1994; Rogala & Tyd´en, 2003; Tyden, Olsson, & Haggstrom-Nordin, 2001).

Considering that a rather strict definition of pornography was used in the current study, we were surprised by the high prevalence of pornography consumption, frequency of use, and reported use of pornography during sexual activity on their own among both men and women. The easy and anonymous availability of pornography on the Internet may account for these findings,

The likely social and cultural key factors in understanding and explaining the high prevalence rates of pornography consumption found in the present study are: a permissive cultural environment, a relaxed and accepting public attitude towards pornography, and an increase in social acceptability of pornography consumption.

In addition, we found that pornography was involved 53.8% of the time when men were having sexual activity on their own, but only 16.8% of the time when women were having sexual activity on their own.

Most pornographic material is characterized by women, who are willing to engage in casual non-committal sexual acts and who display a wealth of cues associated with fertility, reproduction, and physical attractiveness, such as young age, full lips, clear skin, clear eyes, lustrous hair, good muscle tone, absence of lesions, and facial symmetry (Buss, 2003; Rossano, 2003). From a short-term human mating perspective, this is exactly what males are looking for: sexual accessibility to many different fertile females who demand little or no post-mating commitment or parental investment

It is, however, interesting that two associated sexual factors, namely higher frequency of masturbation and lower age at first exposure, were significant and strong predictors of pornography consumption. Janghorbani et al. (2003)