Pornography and Romantic Relationships2AbstractThis article provides a broad overview of pornography’s effects on romantic relationships since the late 1960s, examining the literature through the family impact lens and focusing on pornography’s potential influence on relational stability. Pornography’s effects are relevant for consumers, public officials, and family scholars concerned with the stability of committed relationships. In particular, findings suggest that pornography can reduce satisfaction with partners and relationships through contrast effects, reduce commitment through increasing the appeal of relationship alternatives, and increase acceptance of infidelity. Evidence connecting pornography to rape or sexual aggression remains mixed, although these effects continue to have important implications for how romantic partners interact. The theoretical perspectives underlying these effects are discussed.Keywords: Family impact, pornography, rape, romantic relationships, sexism
Pornography and Romantic Relationships3An Empirical and Historical Review of Pornography and Romantic Relationships: Implicationsfor Family ResearchersSocial science has produced a variety of evidence connecting pornography consumption with a series of social harms, as well as arguments critiquing, downplaying, and dismissing that evidence (Brannigan, 1991). These arguments have been primarily concerned with whether pornography can cause consumers to perpetrate violence and rape (Malamuth, Addison, & Koss, 2000), although other effects—including effects of consumption on families and relationships—have received relatively little attention. The purpose of this article is twofold: a) to examine the history of the academic study of pornography, discussing why studies relevant to family impact have been late to arrive on the scene, and b) to provide a broad overview of the effects of pornography consumption through the family impact lens (Bogenschneider, Little, Ooms, Benning, Cadigan, & Corbett, 2012). I argue that attempts to censor pornography have focused attention away from effects on families and relationships, and that the current literature provides strong evidence regarding pornography’s negative influence on family stability.The Family Impact Lens and Important LimitationsPornography is not the only policy topic exhibiting relative neglect of the effects on relationships and families (Bogenschneider & Corbett, 2010). When governments implement policies, they are often quick to consider harms and benefits to individuals, but are slower to think of how families might be affected (Normandin & Bogenschneider, 2005). In such cases, governing bodies may consult economists to determine the economic impactof a policy, or an environmental lobby to examine its environmental impact, but, even though lip service is paid to the importance of families, governments rarely put systematic effort toward determining family
Pornography and Romantic Relationships4impact, despite the various unintended effects that social policy can have on families (Bogenschneider et al., 2012).