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Filthy Movies and Filthy Germs: The Link Between Pathogens and Tolerance Towards Pornography


Censorship has been a heavily investigated topic within the field of Communication, and explanations of why individuals support the censorship of media, particularly pornography, have traditionally relied upon either the third-person effect, or theories of personality, such as authoritarianism. However, recent research within the field of evolutionary psychology has suggested that the generation of particular cultural values have arisen because they indirectly influenced pathogen avoidance. Based upon the parasite model of democratization developed by Thornhill, Fincher and Aran (2009), it was tested whether the reduction of pathogens in decreases authoritarianism and restrictiveness of sexuality, which subsequently decreases support for the censorship of pornography. An analysis of country-level data was undertaken to test whether the historical prevalence of pathogens in a country is related to the legal status of pornography. In addition, an online experiment was administered, in which participants were exposed to either a pathogen prime, a threatening gun prime, or a control. While results did not show a clear link between pathogens and censorship, some interesting results were found.

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