"Our research suggests that greater exposure is linked to less sensitivity," Dr Simon Duff, deputy director of forensic programs at the University of Nottingham told Sputnik.
Current research into the effects of exposure of hard-core pornography has found links between hard-core porn and an increase in sexual deviance, sexual offending, negative attitudes to relationships and being more susceptible to accepting rape myths.
However, fewer studies are carried out looking at the effects of over-exposure to soft-core porn, such as pictures in tabloid newspapers, which researchers at the University of Nottingham say is surprising due to the proliferation of images of semi-naked women in advertising campaigns and social media.
"We need to examine the direction of the relationship — does exposure result in changed attitudes? Or do different attitudes impact on the exposure to imagery?" Duff told Sputnik.
Over 140 young people at an average age of 19 were recruited for the study to measure how much soft-core porn they are exposed to across various media types, their sensitivity to soft-core images, and their attitudes towards women and their acceptance of rape myths. Just under half of the group were young men.
Duff, along with his colleague Sarah Daniels, examined the relationship between the frequency of exposure to soft-core porn — including semi-naked images of women — and the subsequent attitudes towards women and how desensitized or sensitive they were to the images.
"Whether one can demonstrate that exposure to these images impacts negatively on attitudes towards women or not — there is the important issue on the impact the imagery has on women and how they view themselves and it makes them feel," Duff told Sputnik.
One theory the scientists have, is that soft-core pornography has become such a regular feature in daily like — be that in a tabloid newspaper, social media or adverts, that young people are simply becoming desensitized to the images. However, the impact of these images on their thinking and behavior, it still unknown.
"My view is that it is important that we understand the potential impact so we can have an intelligent debate about it that involves the psychology of both viewers — and viewed."
The study carried out by forensic psychologists, Dr Simon Duff and Sophie Daniels is being presented at the annual conference of the British Psychological Society's Division of Forensic Psychology in Brighton.