The mere exposure effect and emotion: A psychophysiological investigation.
Committee ChairAllen, John J.B.
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PublisherThe University of Arizona.
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AbstractAn experiment was conducted to test the hypothesis that in addition to familiar stimuli being rated more positively than unfamiliar stimuli, they would also evoke more positive and/or less negative affect. The effect of individual difference variables on these predicted effects was also examined. In the experiment, which used methods known to produce robust mere exposure effects, women were repeatedly exposed to photographs of 10 different women. The participants then viewed these same women again (familiar) and 10 novel women (unfamiliar) while zygomatic and corrugator muscle region activity and frontal and parietal electroencephlographic (EEG) activity was recorded. After viewing each photograph, participants rated how much they liked the woman in the photograph. In addition to familiar stimuli being rated more positively than unfamiliar stimuli, they evoked more zygomatic muscle region activity. Anterior asymmetries in alpha activity at baseline related to ratings of familiar versus unfamiliar stimuli, with relatively less left anterior activation (inverse of alpha) related to more of a preference for the familiar over the unfamiliar. In addition, persons who scored high in social anxiety tended to react with less corrugator activity to the familiar than to the unfamiliar. Persons with less self-reported positive affect and persons with more negative affect reacted with more zygomatic activity to the familiar than to the unfamiliar. These results are discussed in terms of their relevance to the idea that familiar stimuli are preferred to unfamiliar stimuli because of their emotion-inducing effects.