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Study of Aggressive Pornography: The Vicissitudes of Relevance

NCJ Number
Critical Studies in Mass Communication Volume: 4 Issue: 3 Dated: (September 1987) Pages: 262-283
A Brannigan; S Goldenberg
Date Published
22 pages
This study reviews some crucial experimental studies of the behavioral impact of exposure to violent or aggressive pornography and assesses their validity and relevance as a basis for censoring pornography in the aftermath of the Meese Commission's report.
The relevant research is deficient on a number of grounds. Methodologically, many research designs confound the effects of the pornographic stimuli with the subjects' anger. The theoretical models habitually do not explain the research results; and to the extent that they do, the models do not constitute a basis for censorship policies. The evidence of aggression is ambiguous and subject to contradictory interpretations. Means in factorial designs are reported incompletely; scales are constructed incredibly, particularly the Likelihood to Rape Scale; and the experimental procedures are questionably related to everyday realities. Although censorship policies might have a sound basis on moral and ideological grounds, this particular strain of research does not produce a scientific basis for such policies. 2 figures, 6 notes, and 84 references. (Author abstract modified)