Basic Mechanisms of Attitude Formation 01/27/2014
Day 1 January 24 h
How do these attitudes form and change?
Robert Zajonc (1968): first to talk about mere exposure hypothesis; simply experiencing an
attitude object repeatedly was enough to form a positive attitude towards that
Consistent with the saying, “out of sight out of mind.”
His experiment> used made up words and told participants that they were words in Turkish, exposed
people to these words once OR 25 times. Later were asked the positive meaning of the word (positive vs
negative based on what they thought these words meant).
Low frequency exposure> only 2 or 3 were rated higher than neutral
High frequency> 25 times exposed words were rated higher.
Used in product advertising
Zajonc & Rajecki (1969): random, meaningless words were printed in the Michigan school
newspaper, same results.
Real World Mere Exposure Effects
Mita et al (1977): We prefer mirror image of our face; friends prefer regular face (head on view of
Depends on what the individual sees more often.
Crandall (1958): We prefer foods we have tasted repeatedly.
Grush et al (1972): In 1972 U.S Congressional campaigns, bigger spender won in 57% of races
Get their name and face in the media
Familiarity leads to greater liking of the candidate
Other demonstrations: drinks, Music, Brand Names, Urban environments.
Monahan, Murphy & Zajonc (2000): presented with a polygon or Chinese character which is
followed by a grey block (masking of the object) so that we do not remember seeing these images.
Testing Phase: Rated liking for the images; presented with the images that had been initially shown behind
the block or similar images or random images not already seen (polygon).
3 Phases: Familiar, Similar and Novel stimuli that the participants were required to rate based on their
Stimuli presented once: old= positively, similar= less positively, new= even less positively.
Stimuli presented 5 times: significantly higher positivity for all of the three phases but the most positive
ratings were for the old stimuli. Multiple exposures to the stimuli significantly increased the liking ratings of all of the stimuli.
Unconscious because this affect occurred without remembering seeing these images.
Control: rates everything at about 2.5/5 (neutral)
Why Mere Exposure Effect?
Produces positive affect
BirnbaumMellers: subjective familiarityliking
Familiarity by itself breeds liking> from frequent exposure
MorelandZajonc: Subjective recognition plus subjective affect.
Frequency> subjective recognition= familiarity; confidence and accuracy in estimates of frequency.
Frequency> subjective liking; with or without accurate judgments of relative familiarity (does not need
familiarity for liking).
Reduced response competition: presenting an attitude object once gives a lot of possible
responses we may have towards it; but seeing something repeatedly allows us to narrow down the
number of responses you have to the object to just one.
Liking= the reducing of competition
Stimulus evokes competing responses> uncomfortable.
Increasing exposure reduces that to one dominant response.
Unclear if this is the main mechanism or if it is one of the mechanisms.
Perceptual fluency; ease of processing: the more frequently we experience an object, the more
quickly we can process information about it.
More fluent we get at processing different aspects of the object.
More experience with it= faster processing of the object= increased liking.
Fluency/ Activation Model: Activation due to increased accessibility makes all stimulus judgments,