THURSDAY, April 25 (HealthDay News) -- It's easy to blame pornography for prompting young people to engage in risky sex, but a new study suggests that the use of sexually explicit material doesn't have a lot to do with sexual behavior.
The study looked at 4,600 people between the ages of 15 and 25 living in the Netherlands. Researchers asked the volunteers about the amount and type of porn they used and about risky, adventurous sexual experiences, such as how many partners they have had, whether they had ever had sex with a same-sex partner or whether they ever paid for sex.
The study found that only between 0.3 percent and 4 percent of the sexual behaviors in question could be attributed to pornography use. The findings were published online April 25 in the Journal of Sexual Medicine.
"Pornography is not as big and bad a wolf as we thought it was, and maybe we should focus on other factors," said study author Gert Martin Hald, a clinical psychologist at the University of Copenhagen in Denmark.
"It does explain a portion of sexual behavior, but it is modest," Hald added.
One factor that could influence sexual behavior is a sensation-seeking personality. Not surprisingly, participants in the study who responded that they like wild sex and having exciting sexual experiences were more likely to engage in risky, adventurous sex.
It's possible that using porn makes people more open to new sexual experiences in general, or makes them more aroused, which then leads them to have more sexual experiences, Hald said. The study could not determine, however, whether some of the connection between porn use and sexual behavior was due to these indirect effects.
Other factors that could contribute to sexual behavior are how you are raised and other social influences, as well as genetics, Hald said. "Each variable only contributes modestly, but it's the interacti
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