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Porn is Not a Big Bad Wolf for Young Adults, Researchers Say

Update Date: Apr 25, 2013 09:18 PM EDT
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A new Norwegian study shows that the effect of porn on younger viewers sex life is less dramatic than previously believed.

The study surveyed 4,600 young people between the ages of 15 and 25 living in the Netherlands during 2008-2009. Researchers asked the volunteers about the amount and type of porn they used and about risky, adventurous sexual experiences, such as how many partners they have had, whether they had ever had sex with a same-sex partner or whether they ever paid for sex.

According to the results, published in Thursday in the Journal of Sexual Medicine, they found that 88 percent of the young men and 45 percent of young women had viewed sexually explicit media over the past year. All kinds of porn, including bondage, soft core, and violent images were included, but the influence of that porn on behavior, though scientifically significant, was small. 

"Pornography is not as big and bad a wolf as we thought it was, and maybe we should focus on other factors. It explains a portion of sexual behavior, but it is modest," Gert Martin Hald, a clinical psychologist at the University of Copenhagen and the study's lead author, told HealthDay.

"It does explain a portion of sexual behavior, but it is modest," Hald noted.

Other factors that could contribute to sexual behavior are how you are raised and other social influences, as well as genetics, Hald said. "Each variable only contributes modestly, but it's the interaction of factors that is really interesting and important," he added.

However, the authors admitted that the study was limited by its self-selected sample and cross-sectional design. It requires cross-cultural validation, they said, especially in countries with sexual attitudes that differ from sexuality in the Netherlands.

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