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Mental Health

Do Varying Levels of Exposure to Pornography and Violence Have an Effect on Non-Conscious Emotion in Men?

Do Varying Levels of Exposure to Pornography and Violence Have an Effect on Non-Conscious Emotion in Men?Full Article Title: Do Varying Levels of Exposure to Pornography and Violence Have an Effect on Non-Conscious Emotion in Men?

Open Access: No

Abstract

As we are often inundated with images of violence and pornography in modern times with the aid of mobile devices and unrestricted online access and content, the non-conscious effect of such exposure is an area of concern. To date, many clinicians and researchers in behavioral sciences rely on conscious responses from their clients to determine affective content. In doing so, they overlook the effect the non-conscious has on an individual’s emotions. The present study aimed to examine variations in conscious and non-conscious responses to emotion-inducing images following varying amounts of exposure to violent and pornographic images. Eighteen participants who self-reported as being low pornography users were presented with emotion-inducing images after no exposure (Session 1), after one round of exposure to 50 pornographic and 50 violent images (Session 2) and after a further nine rounds of exposure to 50 pornographic and 50 violent images (Session 3). Sessions were temporally separated by at least 2 days while startle reflex modulation (SRM) and scalp-recorded event-related potentials (ERPs) were used to determine non-conscious emotion-related responses to pre-evaluated emotion pictures. Explicit valence and arousal ratings were assessed for each of those emotion pictures to determine conscious emotion effects potentially changing as a function of increasing controlled exposure to pornographic and violent visual material. Conscious explicit ratings and SRM amplitudes revealed no significant difference between the sessions. However, frontal ERP analysis revealed significant changes between processing of “violent” and “unpleasant” images at later ERP time windows, further supporting the growing body of research which shows that relying on self-report data does not result in a full understanding of emotional responses.

 

Citation

Kunaharan, S., Halpin, S., Sitharthan, T., & Walla, P. (2020). Do varying levels of exposure to pornography and violence have an effect on non-conscious emotion in men? Archives of Sexual Behavior, 49(4), 1215–1229. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10508-019-01550-8