ONE of the major questions surrounding the effects of pornographyconsiders whether mass communication of sexually explicit materialgenerates any negative consequences for members of society. One particular issue concerns the relationship of sexually explicit materials to sexual crimes and sexual criminals. The common assumption is that sexual criminals use pornography more frequently or respond to the material differ-
Correspondence and requests for reprints: Mike AlIen, Department of Communication, University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, WI 53201; e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
Communication Yearbook 22, pp. 139-169
ently than do "normals." Conflicting interpretations exist, specifically: (a) that pornography consumption reflects existing predisposition and is not the cause of antisocial behavior and (b) that exposure to sexually explicit materials is one cause of antisocial behavior. This suggestion is only one of many possibilities (not all exclusive), including bidirectional causality (both claims are true) and noncausal relations (typically resulting from a common root factor that creates a "correlation" between the subsequent outcomes). Whatever the relationship, an improved understanding of what the available research indicates would contribute to the eventual testing, confirmation, or elimination of the current explanations.