Study finds pornography is not becoming increasingly violent

New research suggests that mainstream pornography is not becoming increasingly violent. The study was published in The Journal of Sex Research.

“My original interest came out of reading and hearing claims both in the popular media and in academic articles that pornography is becoming worse and worse. Part of this argument was a result of the scientifically dubious claims about pornography being addictive and users needing to constantly ‘up the stakes,'” said study author Eran Shor, an associate professor at McGill University.

“Reading the research, I could not find any systematic support for these claims, and most of it was really anecdotal. But it still seemed like pretty much a truism. So I wanted to examine this issue systematically, really not knowing what I was going to find out.”

The researchers examined 269 popular videos uploaded to PornHub from 2008 to 2016. They found that viewers did not prefer violent content. Instead, more popular videos tended to display scenes of women’s pleasure.

“The main takeaway is that, contrary to popular belief, we see no evidence that the most popular online pornographic videos are becoming more and more violent. On the contrary, clearly non-consensual aggression is declining and so is the portion of videos in which aggression appears,” Shor told PsyPost.

They found that depictions of visible aggression fluctuated over the years. But there was not a steady upward or downward trend.

“In addition, there’s no evidence that most viewers prefer aggressive content,” Shor said. “In fact, we found that aggressive videos were less popular and most viewers actually seem to prefer videos where we see affection between sexual partners. Consequently, there’s also no support for the idea of pornography as an addiction, where the average viewer constantly seeks more provocative/aggressive materials.”

However, the study has some limitations.

“This study only looked at the ‘most watched’ free online videos. While I believe this is representative of the porn that most people watch online, it’s important to note that there are of course many viewers who do seek aggressive content,” Shor explained.

“In addition, while I found an overall lower proportion of videos including aggression than in some previous studies, a substantial portion of the videos (about 40%) still includes some forms of aggression (although mostly it is relatively subtle and at least appears to be consensual).”

The study, “‘Harder and Harder’? Is Mainstream Pornography Becoming Increasingly Violent and Do Viewers Prefer Violent Content?“, was authored by Eran Shor and Kimberly Seida.