Moral psychology of sex robots: An experimental study − how pathogen disgust is associated with interhuman sex but not interandroid sex

Mika Koverola, Maria-Anna Drosinou, Jussi Petteri Palomäki, Juho Halonen, Anton Johannes Olavi Kunnari, Marko Repo, Noora Lehtonen, Michael Laakasuo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review


The idea of sex with robots seems to fascinate the general public, raising both enthusiasm and revulsion. We ran two experimental studies (Ns = 172 and 260) where we compared people’s reactions to variants of stories about a person visiting a bordello. Our results show that paying for the services of a sex robot is condemned less harshly than paying for the services of a human sex worker, especially if the payer is married. We have for the first time experimentally confirmed that people are somewhat unsure about whether using a sex robot while in a committed monogamous relationship should be considered as infidelity. We also shed light on the psychological factors influencing attitudes toward sex robots, including disgust sensitivity and interest in science fiction. Our results indicate that sex with a robot is indeed genuinely considered as sex, and a sex robot is genuinely seen as a robot; thus, we show that standard research methods on sexuality and robotics are also applicable in research on sex robotics.
Original languageEnglish
JournalPaladyn, Journal of Behavioral Robotics
Issue number1
Pages (from-to)233-249
Number of pages17
Publication statusPublished - 2020
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed

Fields of Science

  • 113 Computer and information sciences
  • 515 Psychology

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