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Durham University

Department of Anthropology

Academic Staff

Publication details for Prof Gillian Bentley

Langcaster-James, Mitchell & Bentley, Gillian R (2018). Beyond the Sex Doll: Post-Human Companionship and the Rise of the ‘Allodoll’. Robotics 7(4): 62.

Author(s) from Durham

Abstract

The increasing market for realistic sex dolls has led to heated debate about future relationships with these entities and whether they could lead to an increasing objectification of women or possibly encourage abuse. However, limited academic research has been carried out on the topic, and little is known about the motivations and experiences of those who purchase and use sex dolls. Therefore, we conducted a mixed methods study of 83 participants, accessed through online doll forums, who completed a 22-item, semi-structured questionnaire. The majority were heterosexual, white, employed, middle-aged males; just over half were not in a current relationship, and approximately half lived alone. A thematic analysis revealed a high prevalence of non-sexual, post-human companionship dynamics between dolls and their owners, as well as reservations by doll owners about future robotic developments. In light of these findings, we suggest a new term, ‘allodoll’, which more accurately reflects the broader, non-sexual relationships of these doll owners, and could broaden the scope of future research. Although sex doll forums may be biased towards certain types of doll users, our findings may allay some of the fears of the more detrimental consequences of sex doll use.