The Mere Exposure Instruction Effect: Mere Exposure Instructions Influence Liking
The mere exposure effect refers to the well-established finding that people evaluate a stimulus more positively after repeated exposure to that stimulus. We investigated whether a change in stimulus evaluation can occur also when participants are not repeatedly exposed to a stimulus, but are merely instructed that one stimulus will occur frequently and another stimulus will occur infrequently. We report seven experiments showing that (1) mere exposure instructions influence implicit stimulus evaluations as measured with an Implicit Association Test (IAT), personalized Implicit Association Test (pIAT), or Affect Misattribution Procedure (AMP), but not with an Evaluative Priming Task (EPT), (2) mere exposure instructions influence explicit evaluations, and (3) the instruction effect depends on participants’ memory of which stimulus will be presented more frequently. We discuss how these findings inform us about the boundary conditions of mere exposure instruction effects, as well as the mental processes that underlie mere exposure and mere exposure instruction effects.