Publications & Reports

Sexual Behaviors and Violence in Pornography: Systematic Review and Narrative Synthesis of Video Content Analyses.

Carrotte ER, Davis AC, Lim MS
Burnet Institute, Melbourne, Australia.


BACKGROUND: Owing to increasing access to Web-based pornography and concerns about its impact on viewers, many researchers have attempted to systematically analyze the content of pornography. OBJECTIVE: We aimed to systematically review the results of quantitative content analyses of video-based pornography and identify the degree to which the following behaviors are depicted: (1) sexual behaviors and themes, (2) condom use during sexual behaviors, and (3) aggression and violence. METHODS: Inclusion criteria for article eligibility were (1) peer-reviewed publications, (2) articles in the English language, (3) articles describing a quantitative content analysis of video pornography, and (4) articles quantitatively examining at least one variable of interest. RESULTS: A total of 23 studies met the eligibility criteria. Studies varied in scope and definitions of behavioral variables. Condom use was rare, although more commonly depicted in gay male pornography (36%-64% videos) compared with heterosexual pornography (2%-3% videos). Normative sexual behaviors were most frequently depicted in pornography samples (eg, vaginal intercourse in 48%-90% and fellatio in 52%-90% of heterosexual videos; fellatio in 66%-100% and anal intercourse in 70%-80% of gay male videos). Extreme acts of violence (1%-3% videos) and rape (0%-6% videos) were relatively rare. However, more subtle forms of aggression, such as spanking (5%-75% videos), were more common, and unequal sexual relations (eg, domination) were also common. Although estimates varied by study, dominating and violent behaviors were nearly always directed toward women. CONCLUSIONS: Condom nonuse and gender inequalities are common in pornography, which has implications for the development of healthy sexual relationships among pornography viewers. Higher quality research, including study replication and consistent methodological choices, is needed.

Link to publisher’s web site


  • Journal: Journal of Medical Internet Research
  • Published: 14/05/2020
  • Volume: 22
  • Issue: 5
  • Pagination: e16702