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Science AMA Series: I’m Taylor Kohut at Western University and I want to talk about porn, what it is, and how it may impact the way that people think, feel, and behave. AMA!
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When asked, I used to tell people that I study the impact of pornography use, emphasizing “impact.” I guess I just didn’t want to give the wrong impression (“People pay you to do what?”). So, much of my research has focused on experimental and survey investigations of impact of pornography on sexual thoughts, feelings, and behavior. Some of it even pops up in r/science on occasion. As a sex-positive researcher with half a brain, not everyone likes what I have to say; popular writer Jonathan Van Maren has characterized me as Marlboro Man of porn, and the well-intentioned folks over at yourbrainonporn.com have filed my work under “Questionable / Misleading Studies.” I’m thinking about getting t-shirts printed.. Recently, my work is shifting more towards the nature and structure of sexual materials. What is porn? What isn’t porn? Wow can we best measure porn use in surveys? And how can the content of porn be divided up into psychologically relevant taxonomies? (Specifically, I’m trying to raise money to develop a new tool for crowdsourcing the content description of pornography to this end: https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/porn-genome-project-app-science/ or check out http://www.pornforscience.com. Porn for Science - Studying Your Shame). Which now means that I not only study the effects of pornography, but porn itself (“Yes Great Aunt Kathy, I get paid to watch porn.”). I’m currently a postdoctoral fellow and adjunct professor that Western University, where I also earned by PhD in social psychology in 2014. Thanks everybody for your questions! It’s been fun! If you’re interested in talking further with me about research, shoot me an email at tkohut at uwo dot ca