Despite rapid advancements in robotics, most people still only come into contact with robots via mass media. Consequently, robot-related attitudes are often discussed as the result of habituation and cultivation processes, as they unfold during repeated media exposure. In this paper, we introduce parasocial contact theory to this line of research— arguing that it better acknowledges interpersonal and intergroup dynamics found in modern human–robot interactions. Moreover, conceptualizing mediated robot encounters as parasocial contact integrates both qualitative and quantitative aspects into one comprehensive approach. A multi-method experiment offers empirical support for our arguments: Although many elements of participants’ beliefs and attitudes persisted through media exposures, valenced parasocial contact resulted in small but meaningful changes to mental models and desired social distance for humanoid robots.



Author ORCID Identifier

Jan-Philipp Stein: 0000-0003-3874-0277

Jaime Banks: 0000-0002-7598-4337



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