Obscenity and Contemporary Community Standards: A Survey1


  • 1

    This survey was supported by a Commission on Obscenity and Pornography contract awarded to Gerald Wehmer, while he and the author were at Wayne State University; portions of this article are based on a report submitted to the Commission in fulfillment of that contract (Wallace, Wehmer, & Podany, 1971).

Human Sexuality Program, University of California Medical Center, San Francisco, California 94143.


Erotic materials may be declared legally obscene only after they have passed a series of tests, one being the application of “contemporary community standards.” A survey of 1083 adult volunteers from the Detroit Metropolitan Area indicated that there was no single standard used by the respondents in their evaluation of a series of erotic pictures. Significant differences between “sexual liberals” and “sexual conservatives” were obtained for several picture rating dimensions.