Study looked at age of first exposure to porn and lasting impact

Study looked at age of first exposure to porn and lasting impact

Men who first encounter pornography at either an early or late age end up being bad news for women - but in different ways, researchers have found.

Gaining access to explicit sexual images when young forges a desire to exert power over women, while latecomers to porn have a tendency to become promiscuous playboys, the research showed.

The US team questioned 330 male university students aged 17 to 54 about their first exposure to pornographic material and their current attitudes towards women.

Lead researcher Alyssa Bischmann, from the University of Nebraska, said: "We found that the younger a man was when he first viewed pornography, the more likely he was to want power over women. The older a man was when he first viewed pornography, the more likely he would want to engage in playboy behaviour."

The second discovery was a surprise because sexual promiscuity was predicted to increase the earlier men were exposed to porn, said the scientists.

Chrissy Richardson, also from the Nebraska team, said: "That finding has sparked many more questions and potential research ideas because it was so unexpected based on what we know about gender role socialisation and media exposure."

The study was presented at the annual meeting of the American Psychological Association in Washington.

Among participants, the average age of their first exposure to porn was 13.37 years old. The youngest porn encounter was at the age of five and the oldest at more than 26 years old.

A majority of men indicated that their first exposure was accidental rather than deliberate or forced.

No significant association was seen between the nature of the exposure and subsequent attitudes towards women.

"We were surprised that the type of exposure did not affect whether someone wanted power over women or to engage in playboy behaviours," said Ms Bischmann. "We had expected that intentional, accidental or forced experiences would have differing outcomes."

- By John von Radowitz, Press Association Science Correspondent

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