Gert Martin Hald of the University of Copenhagen in Denmark and colleagues conducted an online survey of 4,600 people ages 15-25, who lived in The Netherlands.
The survey revealed 88 percent of males and 45 percent of females said they watched sexually explicit material via the Internet, magazines, videos, television or other media in the previous 12 months.
There was a direct association between watching sexually explicit media and a variety of sexual behaviors -- in particular adventurous sex and sex that involves the exchange of money -- even when a number of other factors were taken into account.
However, this association was modest -- between 0.3 percent and 4 percent of differences in sexual behaviors. The findings indicate watching sexually explicit media is one of a number of factors that may shape the sexual behaviors of young individuals, but it may not be as directly linked as previously thought, Hald said.
"Our data suggest that other factors such as personal dispositions -- specifically sexual sensation seeking -- rather than consumption of sexually explicit material may play a more important role in a range of sexual behaviors of adolescents and young adults, and that the effects of sexually explicit media on sexual behaviors in reality need to be considered in conjunction with such factors," Hald said in a statement.
The study was published in The Journal of Sexual Medicine.