LOS ANGELES—The notion that hardcore pornography is addictive and, even worse, a corrosive hazard to individuals, families and society is running headlong into studies conducted by noted researchers that show precisely the opposite—that hardcore pornography is good for you.
A blog post Friday by Dr. Gad Saad on the Psychology Today website makes just that argument, citing two recent studies, including one conducted by Gert Martin Hald and Neil M. Malamuth.
"I should mention," writes Saad, "that Neil Malamuth is a highly regarded scholar of pornography who has often argued for its supposed ill effects. Hence, if there exists a possibility of an a priori bias here, it would be in hoping to find that pornography yields negative consequences."
But that is not what the researchers found in their survey of 688 young Danish adults (men = 316; women = 372). Instead, "Hald and Malamuth found that respondents construed the viewing of hardcover pornography as beneficial to their sex lives, their attitudes towards sex, their perceptions and attitudes towards members of the opposite sex, toward life in general, and over all. The obtained beneficial effects were statistically significant for all but one measure across both sexes. Now here is the kicker: A positive correlation was obtained between the amount of hardcover pornography that was viewed and the impact of the benefits reaped. This positive correlation was found for both sexes. In other words, the more that one watched porn, the stronger the benefits (for both sexes)!"
The second study yielded similar results. "In a paper published in 2009 in the International Journal of Law and Psychiatry, Milton Diamond reviewed a very broad number of studies that have explored the supposed ill effects of pornography," writes Saad.
Diamond concludes, "Indeed, the data reported and reviewed suggests that the thesis is myth and, if anything, there is an inverse causal relationship between an increase in pornography and sex crimes. Further, considering the findings of studies of community standards and wide spread usage of SEM [sexually explicit material], it is obvious that in local communities as nationally and internationally, porn is available, widely used and felt appropriate for voluntary adult consumption. If there is a consensus against pornography it is in regard to any SEM that involves children or minors in its production or consumption. Lastly we see that objections to erotic materials are often made on the basis of supposed actual, social or moral harm to women. No such cause and effect has been demonstrated with any negative consequence."
For Saad, whose Psychology Today blog is on the nature and nurture of consumption, the results are compelling and somewhat conclusive. "This post should not be construed as my being in favor of pornography," he says," as my personal opinion is irrelevant to the matter at hand. Rather I am reporting on recent data regarding this debate and in so doing I wish to highlight the fact that ideology should never trump scientific evidence."