Mere exposure to a distracting stimulus: like it or not?

Lodge, Jason Micheal (2011) Mere exposure to a distracting stimulus: like it or not? PhD thesis, James Cook University.

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The increase in liking for a repeatedly presented stimulus is a central theoretical justification for advertisement repetition. Products and brand names are repeatedly presented because it supposedly leads to an increase in liking for the brand or product and therefore more chance a consumer will purchase the product. Recent research suggests that the influence of repeated exposure to a stimulus is not so straightforward. The increase in liking for a stimulus due to repeated exposure is known as the mere exposure effect and is one of the most established and replicated phenomena in experimental psychology. It appears as though the mere exposure effect is most likely the result of increased ease in processing the stimulus, known as processing fluency. In contrast to over 300 experiments corroborating this effect, distracting stimuli viewed during visual selective attention tasks become disliked, in what has become known as the distractor devaluation effect. This effect is based on inhibition associated with ignoring distractors in these tasks and poses a potential inconsistency with the mere exposure effect, which leads to the prediction that the exposure should produce a preference for any exposed stimulus. The aim of the current research is to determine whether the divergent outcomes of exposure to a stimulus observed in these two effects operate via a common set of mechanisms or whether the observations of distractor devaluation studies are due to a different evaluative process. In the reported series of experiments, participants were repeatedly exposed to distracting stimuli for brief periods whilst engaged in visual search tasks. Participants' liking and familiarity for target and distractor stimuli were assessed using self-report and implicit measures. Results indicate that processing fluency is increased due to exposure to the distracting stimulus; however, the processing fluency does not always lead to positive subjective preference ratings for the same stimulus. Results from these experiments instead suggest that negative attitudes towards distractors are related to rejecting the distractors. The negative feelings are related to a hedonic marker that increases efficacy in visual search tasks. The implication of this research is that ignoring a stimulus leads to a short-term negative attitude for the stimulus related to goal attainment that has little long-term consequence for preference formation. The mere exposure effect is the development of a longer term liking of a stimulus based on exposure and, therefore the distractor devaluation effect contributes little to the understanding of the Selective attention and the mere exposure effect mechanisms underlying the mere exposure effect and the development of persistent likes and dislikes.

Item ID: 31600
Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Keywords: mere exposure effect; attitudes; preferences; selective interests; stimuli effects; stimuli triggers; evaluative processes
Date Deposited: 06 May 2014 02:15
FoR Codes: 17 PSYCHOLOGY AND COGNITIVE SCIENCES > 1701 Psychology > 170112 Sensory Processes, Perception and Performance @ 50%
17 PSYCHOLOGY AND COGNITIVE SCIENCES > 1702 Cognitive Science > 170202 Decision Making @ 50%
SEO Codes: 97 EXPANDING KNOWLEDGE > 970117 Expanding Knowledge in Psychology and Cognitive Sciences @ 100%
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