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J Interpers Violence. 2018 Sep 7:886260518795170. doi: 10.1177/0886260518795170. [Epub ahead of print]

Bridging the Theoretical Gap: Using Sexual Script Theory to Explain the Relationship Between Pornography Use and Sexual Coercion.

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1 Sam Houston State University, Huntsville, TX, USA.
2 Iowa State University, Ames, USA.


Research has consistently shown a relationship between pornography use and sexually coercive behaviors, but this inquiry has yet to fully examine the theoretical mechanisms through which this relationship works. The current study will use a theory that has gained support and attention as a way to understand the relationship pornography use has with general sexual behaviors, but has not been widely used to explain its relationship with sexually coercive behaviors: the sexual script theory. In this theory, scripts are attitudes and ideas about what behavior is acceptable, desirable, and pleasurable, which exist at the societal, personal, and interpersonal levels. Using items that assess all three levels of sexual scripts, a path analysis was used to examine whether sexual scripts mediate the relationship between pornography use and sexual coercion likelihood in a sample of 463 college males. Results of the study provide further support for the theory as a way to explain the relationship between pornography use and sexual behavior, and, in particular, sexually coercive behavior. Findings from the analysis also indicate that the various levels of scripts interact with each other and work together to influence likelihood of sexual coercion, providing further insight into how sexual scripts are manifested in behavior. Finally, the results suggest that pornography use is a multidimensional construct comprised of variables extending beyond frequency of use, such as number of modalities used to view pornography. Future research should continue this line of inquiry, expanding on the operationalization of sexual scripts and pornography use, to strengthen these findings and better illuminate the theoretical understanding of the relationship between pornography use and sexual coercion.


pornography; sexual aggression; sexual coercion; sexual scripts


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