I’ve seen a lot of articles lately about sex robots and how they’re supposedly going to revolutionize our sex lives. A lot of these articles make the assumption that there’s a lot of demand and desire for sex robots, but is that really the case? How many people are into the idea of getting it on with a bot anyway? And are robots likely to replace a lot of human-on-human sex?
I collected data from more than 4,000 Americans about their sexual fantasies for my book Tell Me What You Want, and the results can speak to these questions. Among other things, I asked participants whether they had ever fantasized about sex with a robot. It turned out that 14.3% of them had done so. However, the numbers varied based on people’s gender identity.
Specifically, whereas just 10.7% of self-identified females reported having had a fantasy about sex with a robot, the number was 17% among self-identified males. Interestingly, those who identified as non-binary (about 5% of the sample), were the most likely to fantasize about sex with a robot (22.8%).
Of course, fantasizing about something doesn’t necessarily mean that you want to do it. And the vast majority of people who had robot fantasies had them infrequently, which suggests that they’re not necessarily big on the idea. Indeed, just 1.2% of women, 1.4% of men, and 4.3% of non-binary folks said they fantasize about sex with robots often (i.e., the highest point on the scale), which means that it’s a pretty small group for whom robot sex even reflects a strong interest.
I think a big part of the reason interest in robot sex isn’t bigger is because people (regardless of gender and sexual orientation) are often seeking to meet emotional needs through sex, such as feeling desired, validated, sexually competent, or loved. More than 70% of my participants said that they rarely or never have fantasies about emotionless sex, which means that more often than not, there’s some emotional component to our fantasies.
In other words, our fantasies usually aren’t just about some mechanical sex act—and mechanical sex is literally what robots provide. Of course, it may be possible for robots to offer some emotional connection with the right programming and appearance. To the extent that robots can eventually be created where you can have what feels like a human interaction (you know, like the robots in Westworld and Ex Machina), people may start to warm up to the idea.
In short, my data suggest that about 1 in 7 people say they’ve fantasized about sex with a robot before; however, interest in robot sex overall seems to be relatively low, given that less than 1.5% of men and women fantasize about this often. It’s far too early to say what role robots will ultimately play in our sex lives in the future, but these numbers suggest that the sex robot revolution we’ve been hearing so much about may be a bit overhyped.
Exclusive offer for readers of the blog: If you order Tell Me What You Want, you will receive a bonus package that includes an extra chapter (which focuses on the psychology behind some of the less common sex fantasies), some fun fantasy-related infographics, and more. Click here for complete details on this offer.
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