In this theoretical paper, we delineate two fundamental paradigms in how scholars conceptualize the nature of machines in human-machine communication (HMC). In addition to the well-known Media Equation paradigm, we distinguish the Media Evocation paradigm. The Media Equation paradigm entails that people respond to machines as if they are humans, whereas the Media Evocation paradigm conceptualizes machines as objects that can evoke reflections about ontological categories. For each paradigm, we present the main propositions, research methodologies, and current challenges. We conclude with theoretical implications on how to integrate the two paradigms, and with a call for mixed-method research that includes innovative data analyses and that takes ontological classifications into account when explaining social responses to machines.



Author ORCID Identifier

Margot J. van der Goot: 0000-0001-6904-6515

Katrin Etzrodt: 0000-0001-6515-9985