You may never feel the same about C-3P0 again.
It turns out we humans get aroused when we touch robots' "intimate" areas, a new study says.
A Stanford University team determined that when human subjects are instructed to touch private areas of a human-like robot, they become more emotionally aroused.
In the experiment, subjects were outfitted with a sensor on their nondominant hand that measured "skin conductance," according to a press release posted Tuesday. When they were asked to use their dominant hand to touch, say, the "buttocks" or "eyes" of the robot, their reaction time slowed and emotional arousal accelerated compared to when they touched more accessible areas like the hands.
"It shows that people respond to robots in a primitive, social way," researcher Jamy Li said in the release. "Social conventions regarding touching someone else's private parts apply to a robot's body parts as well. This research has implications for both robot design and theory of artificial systems."
As shown in the video above, the robot in the experiment also provides an anatomical definition of each body part touched. There were four female volunteers and six male volunteers in the small study, according to The Guardian.
Li told The Huffington Post that one subject could not touch a certain robot body part at all. "It might have been just a general discomfort for that type of interaction with the robot," he said.
One wonders what the arousal level would be with a more lifelike 'bot. The findings follow a report on a Hong Kong man who built a talking robot that looks remarkably like actress Scarlett Johansson.
Li, Wendy Ju and Byron Reeves will present their study in June at the Conference of the International Communication Association in Fukuoka, Japan.
And to robot lovers who plan to attend: Keep your hands to yourselves.