Advertising is notorious for using the mere exposure effect, when a company releases a new product their marketing campaign makes the use of bill boards, posters, television adverts, newspaper adverts, magazine adverts.... you name it. This gives this new product a sense of omnipresence when you add it all up but the real intention behind this is to get it noticed at least once a day so when you do finally come across this new product in the shop you feel a sense of familiarity towards it, this is because of the repeated exposure and now are that much more likely to purchase it. The use of trailers for movies are also a form of the mere exposure effect, by giving you a small sample of the movie you become aware of it, then with enough repeat exposures you become familiar with it and may decide to go out and watch it because you've begun to favour it more and more over time. Lastly music is unmistakeably something that commonly uses the mere exposure effect as a tool, at some point you may have decided you didn't like a piece of music or a tune based on your initial impression of it but after hearing it a few times on the radio and seeing a promotional advert of it on television a couple of times then even hear your friends talk about it which evokes social proof, you slowly come round to deciding that you want to know what the fuss is about and may even go out your way to listen to it and even purchase a copy. Quite effective.
An experiment conducted by social psychology pioneer Robert Zajonc in 1968 involving him showing a group of American participants images of a selection of Chinese characters varying different exposures up to 25 times then questioning the participants about what they saw asking how favourably they felt to each character that was shown. Keeping in mind that each character had no initial meaning to each of the American participants, the results were that the characters that were rated favourably and had more positive connotations were shown more frequently than the others which were shown less frequently. Zajonc concluded that the extra favourability some of the Chinese characters received was because of the familiarity gained by each repeated exposure.
The mere exposure effect is prevalent in human relationships, similar to how advertising works; the more time spent with someone or even just seeing an individual the more likely you are to form a positive opinion about them. This is provided that they haven't done anything overly negative. There are many situations where being in close proximity to someone increases the likelihood of being favourable to a person or a group of people through repeated exposure where you otherwise would not have in a one off situation. These situations would include college dorms, holidays where you would be staying for a period of time, your local supermarket, the gym, your workplace, your local bar... the list is endless. This principle goes for attraction in human relationships also, the feeling of liking increases the chances of someone being a potential partner (think people who date people at their workplace) because of their positive opinion of them as a result of repeated exposure and due to this we find we can be comfortable around them, and as people we are attracted to things we feel we are comfortable with.
An unusual experiment regarding the mere exposure effect was carried out by Professor Charles Geotzinger in 1968 in his classroom at Oregon State University where he had a mystery student attend one of the professors classes for two months in a black bin bag with only his bare feet showing, this occurred every Monday, Wednesday and Friday at 11:00 am with the student sitting at the back of the classroom. None of the 20 students that attended his class knew the identity of this mystery student. To begin with the students showed hostility towards the person in the black bag, and then over time this changed to curiosity, then some time after that the students eventually showed a positive attitude and developed a friendship with this mystery student.
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