Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Mere Exposure to John McCain Can Be Dangerous

Brent Jessop - Knowledge Driven Revolution.com
June 25, 2008

About a month ago FOX News was caught hiding a smiling John McCain in the animation of one of their shows (see video below). Why would they go to such an effort, and break the law, to hide an imperceptible John McCain? Below is an excerpt from a standard social cognition book which will explain a lot. [1]

"The more familiar we are with people, faces, colors, geometrical shapes, odors, foods, and many other things, the more we like them (for a review, see Bornstein 1989). Robert Zajonc termed this phenomenon the mere exposure effect to indicate that the mere repeated exposure to an object suffices to increase one's liking for it (Zajonc 1968). It now appears that mere exposure to an object is especially likely to increase liking for that object when people are unaware of this exposure (Bornstein 1989; Bornstein and D'Agostino 1992).

A now classic study by Kunst-Wilson and Zajonc (1980) established that people will come to prefer previously seen objects even if they have never been aware of seeing them. In the first phase of this study, participants were exposed five times to each of 10 different irregular octagons. These exposures were so brief (1 millisecond) so as to make conscious detection all but impossible. Then, in the second phase, each of the old octagons was paired with a different new one that participants had not previously seen. For each such pair, they were asked to guess which octagon they had seen previously. Their responses revealed that they were unable to recognize the previously seen octagons; their accuracy was no better than what would be expected by chance alone (48 percent). And yet, despite their inability to recognize the objects they had been exposed to, their liking for these objects was influenced by this exposure: For most pairs (60 percent) they liked the old octagons better than the new ones.

Many subsequent studies have replicated this mere exposure effect. Robert Bornstein conducted a meta-analysis of over 200 experiments that examined the effects of mere exposure on liking (Bornstein 1989). In a meta-analysis, the results of many experiments that examine the same phenomenon can be integrated to provide an overall estimate of the strength of this phenomenon, and factors that influence results can be identified. The meta-analysis of the mere-exposure studies revealed that the effect of prior exposure on liking was substantially larger in studies that used subliminal exposure than it was in studies that used conscious exposure. Inspired by this conclusion, Bornstein and D'Agostino conducted a series of experiments designed to test it directly (Bornstein and D'Agostino 1992). And, indeed, they were able to show that repeated exposure to the same stimuli (photographs of women or geometrical shapes) enhanced liking for these stimuli more when the stimuli were presented subliminally (i.e., for only 5 milliseconds) than when they were presented with conscious awareness (i.e. for 500 milliseconds).

[...] It seems likely that the repeated exposure to a stimulus creates a sense of vague familiarity, sometimes termed perceptual fluency. This warm glow of familiarity is then mistaken for liking. When people realize that the stimulus appears familiar because they have just seen it, they do not use this sense of familiarity as a basis for their liking judgments.” – 283

Our beliefs are manipulated on many different levels. This is a good example of a technique which is used to engrain a certain narrow set of beliefs into a large segment of the population. This of course is not limited to "right wing" FOX News but will be just as effectively used by the "left wing" of this false paradigm.

[1] Ziva Kunda, Social Cognition: Making Sense of People (1999). ISBN 0-262-11241-8.


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