From Exposure to Liking: The Roles of Awareness, Context, and Valence on the Mere Exposure Effect

by Daniel De Zilva

Institution: University of New South Wales
Department: Psychology
Year: 2014
Keywords: Memory; Preferences; Exposure; Affect; Liking; Awareness; Context; Valence
Record ID: 1055207
Full text PDF: http://handle.unsw.edu.au/1959.4/53516


Exposure increases liking ��� the mere exposure effect. The phenomenon is highly robust, having been reported in over 200 articles. The present thesis investigated the limits of the mere exposure effect ��� situations in which exposure does not cause liking. Many authors have claimed that the mere exposure effect occurs even when participants are unaware of stimulus exposure. Chapter 1 examined these claims using exposure duration and continuous flash suppression to render participants aware or unaware of the stimuli. No mere exposure effect was obtained without conscious awareness. Only exposure with awareness increased liking. Exposure with awareness is also insufficient for the mere exposure effect. In Chapter 2, participants were repeatedly exposed to pairs of contexts and target stimuli. The usual preference for familiar target stimuli was disrupted when the context-target pairings were rearranged between exposure and test, or a novel context was introduced at test. Thus, liking of stimuli due to exposure is specific to the context of exposure and does not generalise to other contexts. Chapter 3 hypothesised that the mere exposure effect would be robust to changes in context if the stimuli were exposed in multiple contexts. Thus, the target stimuli were paired with more than one context. The mere exposure effect was robust to exposure in multiple contexts, but only when the target stimulus was presented at test in a context in which it had been repeatedly exposed. The results suggest that familiarity of the relationships between stimuli and their context, not simply familiarity of the stimuli themselves, leads to liking. Chapter 4 investigated valenced stimuli as a limit to the mere exposure effect because previous studies have shown seemingly inconsistent findings. Exposure increased liking for negatively and positively valenced stimuli. Increased liking of negatively valenced stimuli was robust to a change in context between exposure and test ��� a finding that is not easily accommodated by current mere exposure accounts. Overall, mere exposure is not sufficient to increase liking. The present evidence suggests that only exposure with awareness increases the pleasantness of stimuli and that the increase is generally limited to the context or contexts of exposure.