U.S. Adults’ Pornography Consumption and Attitudes Toward Adolescents’ Access to Birth Control: A National Panel Study (2015)

Wright, Paul J., and Soyoung Bae.

International Journal of Sexual Health 27, no. 1 (2015): 69-82.


Objectives: The conditions under which adolescents should have access to birth control has been debated by U.S. policy makers and health officials for some time. Given the variability and fluidity of law and policy in this area and the high stakes described by advocates for and against access, identifying predictors of electorate opinion is important.

Methods: This study utilized national panel data gathered in 2008 (T1) and 2010 (T2) to examine associations between U.S. adults’ pornography consumption and attitudes toward adolescents’ access to birth control.

Results: Consistent with a social learning perspective on media, pornography consumption at T1 was associated with more positive attitudes toward adolescents’ access to birth control at T2, even after accounting for T1 birth control attitudes and multiple potential third-variables. Consistent with Wright’s (2011 Wright, P. J. (2011). Mass media effects on youth sexual behavior: Assessing the claim for causality. Communication Yearbook, 35, 343–386. [Google Scholar]) acquisition, activation, application model (3AM) of media sexual socialization, this association was stronger for more morally individualistic adults. Contrary to a selective exposure perspective on media, birth control attitudes at T1 did not predict pornography consumption at T2.

Conclusions: These findings have implications for the prediction of birth control attitudes specifically and the socializing influence of pornography more generally.