Exposure effect

Exposure effect

The Exposure Effect (also known as the Mere Exposure Effect) is a psychological phenomenon well known to advertisers: people express undue liking for things merely because they are familiar with them. This effect has been nicknamed the "familiarity breeds liking" effect. In interpersonal attractiveness research studies, the term "exposure principle" is used to characterize the phenomenon in which the more often a person is seen by someone the more pleasing and likeable that person appears to be.

Simply exposing experimental subjects to a picture or a piece of music briefly led those subjects to later rate it more positively than other, similar stimuli which they had merely not been shown earlier. In another experiment, students were shown a Chinese character on a tachistoscope faster than could be perceived consciously. Later, students were asked to say whether they thought specific characters were positive or negative adjectives. Those characters that had been previously subliminally exposed to the students were rated more positively than those that had not. When asked, the students were able to cite specific and detailed reasons why they preferred the characters that they did (which could have been at least partially due to rationalization).

This effect was first studied by Robert Zajonc. Zajonc (1968) showed Chinese characters to people from one to 25 times, asking them to guess the meaning. The more they saw a character the more positive a meaning they gave. Kunst-Williams and Zajonc briefly (1 ms) showed octagons to experimental participants. Although they were later unable to identify the octagons, their liking for the shapes increased. A related effect relevant to advertising and propaganda is the sleeper effect.

The exposure effect has recently been demonstrated by Fang et al. (2007) in the context of web site banner advertising.

ee also

*List of cognitive biases
*List of memory biases
*Propinquity effect
*Subliminal advertising


* Zajonc, R. B. (1968) Attitudinal Effects of Mere Exposure. "Journal of Personality and Social Psychology", 9, 2, 1-27.
* Kunst-Wilson, W. R., & Zajonc, R. B. (1980). Affective discrimination of stimuli that cannot be recognized. "Science", 207, 557-558.
* Bornstein, R. F. (1989) Exposure and Affect: Overview and Meta-Analysis of Research, 1968-1987. "Psychological Bulletin", 106, 2, 265-289.
* Kramer, R. S. S., & Parkinson, B. (2005). Generalization of mere exposure to faces viewed from different horizontal angles. "Social Cognition", 23, 125-136.
* Fang, X., Singh, S., and AhluWalia, R. (2007). An Examination of Different Explanations for the Mere Exposure Effect. "Journal of Consumer Research", 34, 97-103.

External links

* [http://changingminds.org/explanations/theories/mere_exposure.htm Changing minds: mere exposure theory]
* [http://ciadvertising.org/student_account/spring_02/adv382j/jeong/Pintro.htm Mere exposure and attitude change]

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