Mere Exposure Effect and Applied Choice between Equivalent Alternatives



Objectives. We examined possibility to use mere exposure effect (MEE) as driving force to take one of equal object as fee and to extend MEE to partly familiar objects. Background. Potency of the MEE in the marketing literature is underestimated. Study design. Participants were well acquainted with a geometrical symbol unobtrusive presented at all entrances of the campus, where all participants could see it though not everyone recognize that. After the time (10 or 60 min.) as a fee for a survey, participants were allowed to pick one of three chocolates that differed by a symbol depicted on the cover. One symbol was as presented at the campus entrance, the second was a similar shape and the third one was totally different. After all participants ranked geometrical symbols by liking to proof the MEE presence. Participants. 18 male 42 female students from 2 Moscow universities Measurements. Pearson’s Chi-squared test and 1-way between subjects ANOVA. Results. MEE motivated participants to take a chocolate with a symbol on the cover that looked similar to known one more often, even though participants might acknowledge a really familiar symbol. Chocolates with the exact or totally unfamiliar symbols were picked rarely. Conclusions. MEE is extendable to partly familiar objects and can be used for promotion of everyday goods, similar in terms of consumer goals. Results support Berlyne’s explanatory models of MEE and provide new insight why recognition inhibits MEE.

General Information

Keywords: mere exposure effect, processing fluency, priming effect, consumer choice

Journal rubric: Empirical Research

Article type: scientific article


For citation: Kravchenko Yu.E., Shchepanskaya A.A. Mere Exposure Effect and Applied Choice between Equivalent Alternatives. Sotsial'naya psikhologiya i obshchestvo = Social Psychology and Society, 2020. Vol. 11, no. 4, pp. 214–227. DOI: 10.17759/sps.2020110415. (In Russ., аbstr. in Engl.)



1.        Groshev I.V., Morozova L.V. Osobennosti vozdeistviya elementov shokiruyushchei reklamy na povedenie potrebitelya [Impacts of Shocking Advertising on Consumer Behaviour]. Sotsial’naya psikhologiya i obshchestvo = Social Psychology and Society, 2012. Vol. 3, no. 1, pp. 142—150. (In Russ.).

2.        Anglada-Tort M., Steffens J., Müllensiefen D. Names and titles matter: The impact of linguistic fluency and the affect heuristic on aesthetic and value judgements of music. Psychology of Aesthetics, Creativity, and the Arts, 2019. Vol. 13 (3), pp. 277—292. DOI:10.1037/aca0000172

3.        Berlyne D.E. Novelty, complexity and hedonic value. Perception & Psychophysics, 1970, no. 8, pp. 279—286. DOI:10.3758/BF03212593

4.        Bornstein R.F. Exposure and affect: Overview and meta-analysis of research, 1968—1987. Psychological Bulletin, 1989. Vol. 106 (2), pp. 265—289. DOI:10.1037/0033-2909.106.2.265

5.        Bornstein R.F., D’Agostino P.R. The Attribution and Discounting of Perceptual Fluency: Preliminary Fluency. Attributional Model of the Mere Exposure Effect. Social Cognition, 1994. Vol. 12 (2), pp. 103—128. DOI:10.1521/soco.1994.12.2.103

6.        Bornstein R.F., D’Agostino P.R. Stimulus recognition and the mere exposure effect. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 1992. Vol. 63 (4), pp. 545—552. DOI:10.1037//0022- 3514.63.4.545

7.        Carr E.W., Huber D.E., Pecher D., Zeelenberg R., Halberstadt J., Winkielman P. The ugliness-in-averageness effect: Tempering the warm glow of familiarity. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 2017, no. 112 (6), pp. 787—812. DOI:10.1037/pspa0000083

8.        Fang X., Singh S., Ahluwalia R. An Examination of Different Explanations for the Mere Exposure Effect. Journal of Consumer Research, 2007. Vol. 34, pp. 97—103.

9.        Hughes S., De Houwer J., Perugini M. Expanding the boundaries of evaluative learning research: How intersecting regularities shape our likes and dislikes. Journal of Experimental Psychology General, 2016, no. 145 (6), pp. 731—54. DOI:10.1037/xge0000100

10.    Jacoby L.L., Kelley C.M. Unconscious influences of memoryfor a prior event. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 1987. Vol. 13, pp. 314—336. DOI:10.1177/0146167287133003

11.    Jacoby L.L., Toth J.P., Lindsay D.S., Debner J.A. Lecturesfor a layperson: Methods for revealing unconscious processes. In R.F. Bornstein, T.S. Pittman (eds.). Perception without awareness. New York, NY: Guilford Press, 1992, pp. 81—120.

12.    Lee A.Y. The mere exposure effect: Is it a mere case of misattribution?  Advances in Consumer Research, 1994, no. 21, pp. 270—275. DOI:10.1177/01461672012710002

13.    Montoya R.M., Horton R.S., Vevea J.L., Citkowicz M., Lauber E.A. A Re-Examination of the Mere Exposure Effect: The Influence of Repeated Exposure on Recognition, Familiarity, and Liking. Psychological Bulletin, 2017. Vol, 143 (5), pp. 459—498. DOI:10.1037/bul0000085

14.    Newel B., Bright J. The subliminal mere exposure effect does not generalize to structurally related stimuli. Canadian Journal of Experimental Psychology, 2003. Vol. 57 (1), pp. 61—68. DOI:10.1037/h0087413

15.    Stafford Т., Grimes А. Memory enhances the mere exposure effect. Psychology and marketing, 2012. Vol. 29 (12), pp. 995—1003. DOI:10.1002/mar

16.    Stang D.J. Methodological factors in mere exposure research. Psychological Bulletin, 1974, no. 81, pp. 1014—1025. DOI:10.1037/h0037419

17.    Westerman D.L., Lanska M., Olds J.M. The Effect of Processing Fluency on Impressions of Familiarity and Liking. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory and Cognition, 2015. Vol. 41 (2), pp. 426—438. DOI:10.1037/a0038356

18.    Zajonc R.B. Attitudinal Effects Of Mere Exposure. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 1968. Vol. 9 (2, Pt. 2), pp. 1—27. DOI:10.1037/h0025848

19.    Zajonc R.B. On the primacy of affect. American Psychologist, 1984. Vol. 39 (2), pp. 117—123. DOI:10.1037/0003-066X.39.2.117


Information About the Authors

Yunna E. Kravchenko, PhD in Psychology, Associate Professor, Associate Professor, Russian Presidential Academy of National Economy and Public Administration, Moscow, Russia, ORCID:, e-mail:

Alena Shchepanskaya, Bachelor, Faculty of Liberal Arts, Institute of Social Sciences, Russian Presidential Academy of National Economy and Public Administration, Moscow, Russia, ORCID:, e-mail:



Total: 489
Previous month: 8
Current month: 2


Total: 196
Previous month: 3
Current month: 0