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Sex and Pornography as Media Content, Effects of

Neil M. Malamuth and Mark Huppin

Subject Communication Studies » Communication Reception and Effects

Key-Topics pornography

DOI: 10.1111/b.9781405131995.2008.x


Research on sex media has often been divided into two categories, depending on whether the sexual stimuli are embedded within a larger context or not. The first type, illustrated by a TV soap opera in which some of the scenes, although typically not a majority, include references to or actual portrayals of sexual interactions, depicted in varying degrees of sexual explicitness. The second category, typically referred to as “pornography,” is primarily intended to sexually arouse the consumer and contains mostly explicitly sexual content. The most influential theory guiding research in this area has been social learning theory (→  Observational Learning ), with emphasis on the concept of “reciprocal determinism,” referring to a continuous reciprocal interaction between the person and the social environment. Thus, people seek out certain types of media that reflect their personalities, interests, attitudes, social interactions, and so forth, and such media experiences in turn may influence these personal characteristics, both directly, and indirectly via influences on peers and others in their social environment. In contrast to people who voluntarily seek out sexual media, there are also those who report unwanted exposure, particularly on the Internet. Surveys reveal that 25 percent of young Internet users per year are exposed to unwanted sexual pictures and about 20 percent receive ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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