24 December 2008
Posted in Psychological Theories
All of us watch television shows. I mean we all watch advertisements and in between them some shows. These days it is getting out of hand with adverts screened more than the commercials. That too, we see the same advertisement again and again till we can enact that advert better than the advert actor! How there is a theory behind why brands keep on giving the same add again and again in a day. This is called the mere exposure theory. The name of the theory says it all. The more we are exposed to a certain stimulating factor, the more we tend to like it. Experimentation has proved amazing results. Even if we don’t like a certain product and if we are bombarded with it constantly we develop a taste for it and eventually start liking it. As the object or person becomes more familiar we tend to forget all the negative points about it.
This theory works for not just objects but also people and places too. With time we tend to like most things around us. Familiarity makes them lose their negative points however strong they are. This is why there are cases of prisoners who miss their prison cells! Studies show that if we are supposed to make a choice about two things which have equal bad things about them, we tend to like the one with which we are more familiar with.
In the year 1968 a researcher called Zajonc showed some characters in a foreign language to a group of people and asked them to make meanings out of them. He showed them the characters again and again and asked them to make meanings after every viewing. It was found that after the people became more familiar with the characters they started giving more positive meanings of the letters. This proved that familiarity changes the way we think about something totally unknown and tend to like it more.
This theory became an instant hit with advertising agencies who found a new mantra to market the product. By continuous exposure people started liking products without even ever trying it. Also they found out that if they came up with new ads of the same product after every few days, people tend to like it even more.
However there is a flip side to this theory. If we are over exposed our brain starts reacting negatively to it. This was proved by Miller in the year 1976. He showed a crowd some posters about how to stop foreign aid. The mass was moderately exposed to the posters and they were completely influenced by the ideas. However Miller wanted to see the effect of over exposure. The same crowd was exposed about 200 times to the posters. The feelings of favor and liking towards the ideas changed drastically so much so that people started reacting negatively to those same ideas which they had liked earlier!
Thus according to the Mere Exposure Theory we tend to like a certain object when we are constantly but adequately exposed to it. However if the limit is exceeded we tend to hate the same object which we had liked earlier.