Clifford Nass and his colleagues proposed the Computers Are Social Actors (CASA) paradigm in the 1990s and demonstrated that we treat computers in some of the ways we treat humans. To account for technological advances and to refine explanations for CASA results, this paper proposes the Media Are Social Actors (MASA) paradigm. We begin by distinguishing the roles of primary and secondary cues in evoking medium-as-social-actor presence and social responses. We then discuss the roles of individual differences and contextual factors in these responses and identify mindless and mindful anthropomorphism as two major complementary mechanisms for understanding MASA phenomena. Based on evolutionary psychology explanations for socialness, we conclude with nine formal propositions and suggestions for future research to test and apply MASA.



Author ORCID Identifier

Kun Xu: 0000-0001-9044-821X