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Arch Sex Behav. 2014 May;43(4):745-53. doi: 10.1007/s10508-014-0294-2. Epub 2014 Apr 12.

"Bareback" pornography consumption and safe-sex intentions of men having sex with men.

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Department of Social Psychology and Cognitive Science Center, University of Amsterdam, Weesperplein 4, 1018 XA, Amsterdam, The Netherlands,


Men having sex with men (MSM) commonly consume "bareback" pornography, which includes scenes of unprotected anal intercourse. Prior research on human imitative behavior suggests that these media might counteract efforts to promote safe-sex behaviors. To date, no studies have demonstrated a causal link between bareback pornography consumption and reduced safe-sex intentions. Study 1 utilized a correlational design conducted as an online survey. Study 2 was set in an actual MSM sex club, using a 2 × 2 mixed-factorial design to compare type of pornography (unprotected vs. protected anal intercourse) and age of actors (younger vs. older). As the main dependent variable in both studies, participants self-reported their inclinations toward unprotected versus protected intercourse, using a 100-point sliding scale (1 = unprotected, 100 = protected). In Study 1, more attention to unprotected sex acts on actual DVD film covers predicted lower safe-sex intentions, as compared to other elements of the film cover. In Study 2, safe-sex intentions after viewing unprotected-sex films were lower than after viewing protected-sex films. The results provide novel and ecologically valid evidence that "bareback" pornography consumption impacts viewer's inclinations toward sexual risk-taking by lowering their intentions to use protected sex measures. Suggestions are given as to how these findings can be utilized for purposes of intervention and prevention of STI and HIV infections.

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