Pornography might cultivate progressive attitudes among the religious: study

Religious people who watch sexually explicit content are more likely to hold egalitarian attitudes toward women, according to a recently published study.

Previous research has found that people who watch pornography are more likely to see women as equals than people who do not watch it.

For the new study, the researchers examined data about pornography use, religious attendance, and attitudes towards women from 11,658 men and 13,988 women who participated in the General Social Survey, an annual study of attitudes in the U.S. population.

The study, which was published in the Journal of Sex Research, was conducted by Kyler R. Rasmussen of Mount Royal University and Taylor Kohut of the University of Western Ontario.

The researchers found that greater religious attendance, overall, was linked to more negative attitudes toward abortion, women in positions of power, and women working outside the home.

But they found evidence that pornography use moderated this relationship. People with greater religious attendance who watched more pornography tended to have more positive attitudes toward abortion, women in positions of power, and women working outside the home than than religious people who did not report watching it.

“These findings are consistent with the possibility that pornography consumption creates cognitive dissonance in those who attend religious services more frequently and that this dissonance has the potential to erode traditional beliefs about women espoused by conservative religious groups,” Rasmussen and Kohut wrote in their study.

The analysis controlled for a number of demographic variables, such as age, gender, marital status, political affiliation, and education. But the study does have some limitations.

The study used a cross-sectional design, making it difficult for the researchers to draw conclusions about cause and effect. It could be that those with more egalitarian attitudes toward women are more likely to consume pornography rather than pornography being an agent for attitude change.