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Mere Exposure Effect

The Mere Exposure Effect And What It Means For Marketing

The Mere Exposure Effect

New or old?

That is the question before you today.

Try something new or stick with what you know you’ll like?

Psychologists believe there is a psychological basis for our preference for the known over the unknown.

When it comes to the “Mere Exposure Effect,” researchers have found that humans prefer familiar objects to new ones.

Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

Relevant Findings; Mere Exposure Effect

  • It is known as the “simple exposure effect” that the more people are exposed to a particular stimulus, the more they enjoy it.
  • The mere exposure effect happens even if people are unaware that they have previously viewed the object.
  • Researchers disagree on the exact cause of the mere exposure effect, but two possible explanations are that we feel less uncertain when we’ve seen something previously, and that things we’ve seen before are easier to interpret.

Key Research

Robert Zajonc, a pioneering social psychologist, released a seminal work on the “simple exposure effect” back in 1968. When it comes to liking something, Zajonc believed that exposure to it on a regular basis was enough.

A positive outcome or reward isn’t necessary to make people like an object, according to a study by Zajonc. Just being around it is enough.

When Zajonc wanted to see if this was the case, he had participants read foreign words aloud.

By varying the frequency at which participants read each word, Zajonc (up to 25 repetitions). This was followed by a rating scale in which participants rated their best and worst guesses about the meaning of each word they had read (suggesting how negative or positive they assumed the word’s meaning).

Participants’ liking of terms they had used frequently was higher than liking of words they had never used, and words that had been used 25 times or more were ranked the highest.

Participants’ enjoyment of the word increased simply as a result of their exposure to it.

An Illustration Of The Mere Exposure Effect

In his original study, Zajonc referred to the relevance of mere exposure to advertisements as an example of the mere exposure effect.

Even if you don’t believe in the “as seen on TV” product the first few times you hear about it, after seeing the commercial a few more times, you begin to believe in its validity. This is known as the “exposure effect.”

An important caveat to this theory is that it does not apply to things we initially despise, so hearing an advertisement jingle repeatedly won’t make us crave the product being advertised.

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When Is The Mere Exposure Effect Activated?

Aside from Zajonc’s initial work, several scholars have examined the mere exposure impact since then.

Research shows that repeated exposure can increase our liking for a wide range images, sounds, foods and smells.

This suggests that the mere exposure effect isn’t limited to one of our senses only. The mere exposure effect has been observed to occur in both human and non-human animal experiments, according to experts.

The simple exposure effect can occur even if people aren’t aware of the object, according to this study, which is remarkable.

Subliminal images were displayed to participants in one experiment conducted by Zajonc and his colleagues. The images were displayed to participants for less than a second, so fast that the subjects were unable to identify which image they had just seen.

Study participants appreciated the photographs better when they had previously viewed them, according to the findings of the study (compared to new images).

Participants who saw the same photos over and over again said they felt happier as a result (compared to participants who only saw each image once).

In other words, individuals’ preferences and moods were influenced by being given images subliminally.

It was conducted in a 2017 study by psychologist R. Matthew Montoya and colleagues, who combined the results of previous research studies with over 8,000 participants.

Participants who were repeatedly exposed to images were found to have the mere exposure effect, but not participants who were repeatedly exposed to sounds.

(Experts note that this could be due to the particulars of these studies, such as the sorts of sounds they utilized, and that some studies have found that sound exposure alone has a modest exposure effect).

This meta-analysis also found that after repeated exposures, people began to dislike the objects they had previously liked.

There are some things that are more enjoyable when you have a lesser number of exposures to them, but if those exposures persist, you may grow tired of them.

Numerous Theories About The Mere Exposure Effect

Researchers have come up with a variety of explanations as to why the mere exposure effect occurs over the years after Zajonc’s work was released.

Psychologists believe that exposure reduces our sense of uncertainty and boosts our ability to process information more quickly.

Uncertainty Reduction

It has been proposed by Zajonc and his colleagues that the mere exposure effect happens as a result of our reduced ability to perceive uncertainty when we are repeatedly exposed to the same person, image, or object.

According to this evolutionary psychology-based theory, we’re predisposed to be wary of new things since they may provide a threat.

After seeing the same thing repeatedly and not experiencing any negative consequences, we come to know that there is nothing to be afraid of.

That is to say, the mere exposure effect arises because we have a more positive attitude about something familiar than something unfamiliar (and potentially dangerous).

Consider a neighbor you pass in the hall on a frequent basis but with whom you’ve only spoken a few niceties.

It’s possible you have a favorable opinion of this person despite the fact that you know nothing about them other than that you see them frequently and have never had a negative interaction with them.

Perpetual Fluency

When we’ve seen something previously, it’s easier for us to understand and interpret it, according to the perceptual fluency perspective.

Consider, for instance, what it’s like to watch a challenging, avant-garde film.

While it’s possible that you won’t appreciate the movie as much on your first viewing, you may enjoy it more the second or third time around.

Second time around, the characters and plot are more familiar to you, and psychologists would state that you experienced higher perceptual fluency.

Perceptual fluency, in this view, is associated with a more pleasant mood. It is possible that we may infer that our pleasant mood stems from the fact that we just witnessed something that made us happy rather than the fluency itself.

To put it another way, we may enjoy a movie more on our second viewing if we’ve had the opportunity to experience perceptual fluency.

The simple exposure effect is still being debated by psychologists, however it appears that having previously been exposed to something can modify our feelings about it.

Furthermore, it could explain why we favor items we are already familiar with on occasion.

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How To Use The Mere Exposure Effect In Your Marketing

You need to show up, consistently, to your audience. Every single day. You should be marketing yourself or your business every single day. Each day that you don’t, you lose a little bit of momentum. You must try to do everything in your power to market yourself every day.

It doesn’t have to be anything wild either.

Keep it simple.

A display ads campaign is a perfect way to do this. Sure, it takes some know-how, but after a while, you’ll notice people are becoming aware that you even exist.

The more you show up for your target audience, the more credible they’ll view you. They’ll trust you more, and they’ll want to do business with you. People will eventually come knocking on your door. Your dream customers and clients will find you if you can show up every day.

Another option?

Try to answer 1 question on Quora each day. Find the questions that your audience is asking and give a thoughtful reply.

These answers are not only shared among the Quora community…

They’re also indexed by Google.

That means: Any answer you publish on Quora has the potential to be shown on Page 1 of Google.

This is a super simple way for anyone to get started with blogging. Just start answering your audience’s questions and make yourself known. When it’s time to upgrade to your own blog/website, you’ll keep answering questions on Quora like normal (don’t want to slow momentum there!). But now you’ll also be able to go back and grab your previous answers and publish them on your website. Add a little commentary in between your previous answer and you’ve got yourself a nice new piece of unique content!

Read more on this

Mere Exposure Effect — How It Works, Examples And Tips

The Contribution of Attention to the Mere Exposure Effect for Parts of Advertising Images

Why do we prefer things that we are familiar with?

I hope you found this helpful. If you have any questions, as always, don’t hesitate to reach out. 🙂

This was originally published here on the Nurturely blog

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