Many people have expressed concern about robots taking over our workforce, but how about our sex lives? A study published in The Journal of Sex Research suggests that sexual arousal can cause people to be more likely to have sex with a robot.
Advances in technology have led to recent breakthroughs in terms of AI and robots. Tools such as ChatGPT have made headlines for being so advanced that they can pass standardized tests like the LSAT and MCAT. Concern with the ramifications of AI technology dominates conversations about academic integrity and job security. With considerable worry about vocational and educational repercussions, should we wonder if this technology could be a threat to other aspects of our lives?
“Despite the advent of machines whose bodies and behaviors are designed to elicit sexual arousal (e.g., sex robots and other erobots), and the potential impact of such machines on our sexual decision-making processes, researchers have yet to examine whether sexual arousal may influence our willingness to engage erotically with such artificial partners,” wrote Simon Dubé and his colleagues in their study.
To explore people’s willingness to engage in an intimate relationship with a robot and how that is affected by sexual arousal, the researchers utilized a convenience sample of 321 adult participants recruited through the internet and world-of-mouth. All participants needed to be fluent in English and have watched pornography before.
Participants completed a two-part 60-minute survey online. In the first part of the survey, participants filled out measures on demographics and willingness to engage intimately with both people and robots.
One week after this, participants were asked to complete part two, where they viewed a 10-minute-long video of people engaging in sexual activity and completed measures on sexual arousal and willingness to erotically engage with people and robots.
Dubé and his colleagues found that people were more likely to report being willing to have sex with a robot while experiencing higher levels of sexual arousal. After viewing an explicit video, participants endorsed being more likely to have an intimate relationship, befriend, and have sex with a robot. There was no significant difference regarding their likelihood to love a robot pre- and post-video.
Compared to women, men reported higher levels of willingness in regard to having sex with robots and engaging in an intimate relationship with a robot both pre- and post-viewing the sexually explicit video, but there were no significant gender differences in likeliness of falling in love with or being friends with a robot.
This study took steps into better understanding how sexual arousal can affect decision making in regard to having an erotic relationship with a robot. Despite this, there are limitations to note. One such limitation is that this study utilized a convenience sample that was predominantly made up of white, educated participants. Additionally, this study utilized self-report measures, which are vulnerable to bias, especially in regard to stigmatized topics such as having sex with a robot.
“Still, this innovative study successfully manipulated the (sexual) arousal and valence of participants and provided the first quantitative evidence that state factors – in this case, sexual arousal – can influence people’s willingness to engage erotically with artificial partners (i.e., robots),” the researchers said. “As such, it expands the research on sexual arousal and decision- making to the realm of erobotics.”
The study, “Hot for Robots! Sexual Arousal Increases Willingness to Have Sex with Robots“, was authored by S. Dubé, M. Williams, M. Santaguida, R. Hu, T. Gadoury, B. Yim, D. Vachon, and A. P. Johnson.