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Love and Sex with Robots: A Content Analysis of Media Representations

  • Nicola DöringEmail author
  • Sandra Poeschl
Article

Abstract

In his seminal book “Love and Sex with Robots”, David Levy (Love and sex with robots: the evolution of human–robot relations, Harper, New York, 2007) predicted that intimate human–robot relationships will be normalized by 2050. So far, only a very small number of early adopters of love and sex robots has experienced these kinds of relationships. The majority of the population only learns about love and sex with robots through media representations, be they fictional (e.g., movies and TV series) or non-fictional (e.g., newspaper and magazine articles). The current study therefore aimed at analyzing the media representations of intimate human–robot relationships. The three research questions, based on Sexual Script Theory, addressed characteristics (1) of the involved human partner, (2) of the involved robot partner, and (3) of their mutual intimate relationship. A quota sample of N = 710 media examples from different genres (48% non-fictional, 52% fictional, originating from 1927 to 2014) was drawn and subjected to quantitative media content analysis. Results indicate that media representations of intimate human–robot relationships tend to portray the involved human partner as a man who is disadvantaged in interpersonal relationships. At the same time, media often portray the involved robot partner as a humanoid female sex robot. While non-fictional media describe intimate human–robot relationships more often in sexual terms, fictional media focus more on emotional aspects, cohabitation and even procreation between humans and robots. Overall, media representations of intimate human–robot relationships reveal stereotypical gender roles, heteronormativity and a focus on sexual versus emotional intimacy. Implications for the future development and use of love and sex robots are discussed.

Keywords

Human–robot relationships Sex robots Media representations Sexual script theory Gender roles Media content analysis 

Notes

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

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Copyright information

© Springer Nature B.V. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute for Media and Communication Science, Research Group Media Psychology and Media DesignTU IlmenauIlmenauGermany

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