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The mere exposure effect depends on an odor's initial pleasantness

Published inFrontiers in psychology, vol. 6
Publication date2015
Abstract

The mere exposure phenomenon refers to improvement of one's attitude toward an a priori neutral stimulus after its repeated exposure. The extent to which such a phenomenon influences evaluation of a priori emotional stimuli remains under-investigated. Here we investigated this question by presenting participants with different odors varying in a priori pleasantness during different sessions spaced over time. Participants were requested to report each odor's pleasantness, intensity, and familiarity. As expected, participants became more familiar with all stimuli after the repetition procedure. However, while neutral and mildly pleasant odors showed an increase in pleasantness ratings, unpleasant and very pleasant odors remained unaffected. Correlational analyses revealed an inverse U-shape between the magnitude of the mere exposure effect and the initial pleasantness of the odor. Consequently, the initial pleasantness of the stimuli appears to modulate the impact of repeated exposures on an individual's attitude. These data underline the limits of mere exposure effect and are discussed in light of the biological relevance of odors for individual survival.

Citation (ISO format)
DELPLANQUE, Sylvain et al. The mere exposure effect depends on an odor’s initial pleasantness. In: Frontiers in psychology, 2015, vol. 6. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2015.00920
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ISSN of the journal1664-1078
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