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Sex Media Doesn’t Lead to Teen Sex?


Generally we consider the sex contents from different media resulting in earlier sexual activities, however, a new study casts doubts on this popular notion.

One of the authors, Psychology Professor Laurence Steinberg said: “There is a common problem in social science research called the third variable problem. When looking at the relation between a given behavior and given experience, it could look like there is a correlation, when in fact the relationship is dependent on something else entirely.” To explain the third variable, Professor Steinberg re-analyzed all the existing data and overturned the popular notion concerning the relationship between exposure of sexual media and earlier teen sex. The results might be related with his conservative personality, but after all, he regards the main reason to be the sexual interests of teenagers.

 “There are many reasons to find the portrayal of sex in mass media objectionable,” he added. “But let’s not confuse matters of taste with matters of science.”

 PS: The third variable problem, refer to in correlation research, if Variable A seems to be correlated with Variable B, then there is large chance that the main reason for the correlation is another independent variable, C. For example, a study suggests a child with larger hand has better math ability, then probably better math ability is not because larger hand, instead, that’s because a child with larger hands is older and has more mature brain, hence has better math ability. In this case, the level of brain extent is the third variable.

Reference: Temple researcher finds different outcome in reanalysis of study on teen exposure to sexualized media