Seeing Masculine Men, Sexy Women, and Gender Differences: Exposure to Pornography and Cognitive Constructions of Gender


  • The authors are indebted to Bernadette Park and Myron Rothbart for sending us the 54 personality/attitude items from their demonstration of the out-group homogeneity effect. We thank Mary Kite and Kay Deaux for sending us sample protocols and coding instructions for their open elicitation task. We appreciate the help of Rodd Stock-well and Jamie Reilly in their experimenter roles. And we are grateful to John Seidel for his comments on this article. Anne Johnson received a master's degree from Northern Illinois University for her work in Studies 1 and 3. Hildy Kellman received an undergraduate degree with high honors from Harvard University for her work in Study 7. Portions of this article were presented at the May 1989 Nags Head Sex and Gender Conference, Nags Head, NC.

should be addressed to Deborrah E. S. Fiable, who is now at the Women's Studies Program, 234 West Engineering, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI 48109.


ABSTRACT This article examines the relation between men's exposure to pornography and their beliefs about men and women. Study 1 presents an individual difference measure for assessing exposure to pornography that was then used in six subsequent studies. In Study 2, high exposure scores predicted being male, having a sexual partner, and the reasons for viewing sexual materials. In Studies 3 and 4, high exposure men were more likely than low exposure men to think that most men perform masculine behaviors. In Studies 5 and 6, high exposure men were also more likely lo generate sexual descriptions of women spontaneously. Finally, in Study 7, high exposure men perceived the most gender differences after viewing sexual or sexual/violent music videos; low exposure men perceived the most differences after viewing sexual or romantic ones. These studies suggest that exposure to pornography is related to broad and fundamental ways of understanding men, women, and gender relations.