Overrating the X-Rating: The Third-Person Perception and Support for Censorship of Pornography


  • The author would like to express appreciation to the University of Wisconsin L & S Survey Center for data collection, and to Lulu Rodriguez for assistance with data analysis and preparation of tables.


Research has produced plentiful evidence of the third-person perception—the tendency for people to think others are more influenced by mass media than they are themselves. But until now there has been scant evidence of the effects of that perceptual bias. Consistent with past third-person effect findings, the data in this study indicate that a substantial majority of U.S. adults see others as more adversely influenced by pornography than themselves. In addition, the results show that peoples' support for pornography restrictions parallels the discrepancy they perceive between effect on self and effect on others.