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June 15, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) – Frequent viewers of soft-core pornography are unlikely to hold positive attitudes about women and those desensitized to such images are more likely to endorse rape myths, according to research presented at the Annual Conference of the British Psychological Society's Division of Forensic Psychology in Brighton on Wednesday.

University of Nottingham forensic psychologists Dr. Simon Duff and Sophie Daniel presented the research, which they conducted on 143 participants.  46.2 percent of participants were males and the average participant age was 19.

The study examined participants’ self-reported exposure to soft-core material across various media types, such as images found in advertising and tabloids.  The study also examined participants’ sensitivity to soft-core material, attitudes to women using the Attitudes Towards Women Scale, and acceptance of rape myths using the Assessing Subtle Rape Myths Scale.

The study found that those who frequently viewed soft-core pornographic images were less likely to describe them as pornographic than those who didn’t frequently view them, more likely to endorse rape myths, and “less likely to have positive attitudes toward women.”

“Pornography, whether softcore or hardcore, sends the message that women's bodies are commodities available for consumption,” said Dawn Hawkins, Executive Director of the National Center on Sexual Exploitation. “The negative impact that pornography can have on acceptance of rape myths, and even self-reported likelihood to rape, is just one more reason we must address pornography as a public health crisis. A society where any form of pornography is pervasive and accepted is a society that is less safe, and less equal, for women.”

The researchers said that further research is needed to better understand the “threat to public health” that soft-core pornography could pose.

“It might be that people who do not hold positive attitudes towards women then seek out soft-core pornography,” said Duff, so the researchers are not necessarily suggesting that soft-core pornography changes attitudes toward women.  “However, there is a relationship between frequency of exposure to soft-core pornography and attitudes towards women and that warrants further exploration.”

Many peer-reviewed studies have demonstrated the negative impacts of hard-core pornography on society and individuals.  Pornography hurts the romantic relationships of its users, is highly addictive, hurts gender equality, and is an industry connected to human trafficking and violence against women.

The governor of Utah recently signed a resolution declaring pornography a “public health crisis” due to the “real health risks involved with viewing” it.

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