Perceived Stigma and Erotic Technology

The intersection of technology and sexuality in sex toys and erobots – artificial erotic agents (e.g. sex robots) – may generate stigma with their use. However, despite the growing prevalence of technology in human sexuality, researchers have yet to examine this stigma. Hence, this study provides the first quantitative evidence of perceived stigma related to erotic technology use (PSETU) and its association with people’s willingness to engage with erotic technologies. Based on previous research, we hypothesised that PSETU exists and increases as a function of products’ human-likeness (Hypothesis 1), and negatively correlates to participants’ willingness to engage with erotic technologies (Hypothesis 2), with stronger associations for women and sex toys and stronger associations for men and erobots (Hypothesis 3). A convenience sample of 365 adults (≥18 years; with access to the recruitment material) completed an online survey measuring their PSETU for sex toys, erotic chatbots, virtual partners, and sex robots, and their willingness to engage with these technologies. The results support Hypothesis 1, and partly support Hypotheses 2–3. Women and men also perceive the same technology-related stigma. These findings are important given the prevalence of sex toys, the advent of erobots, and the potential impact of stigma on their (future) users.

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