Memory & Cognition

, Volume 46, Issue 2, pp 181–190 | Cite as

The mere exposure effect for visual image

  • Kazuya Inoue
  • Yoshihiko Yagi
  • Nobuya Sato


Mere exposure effect refers to a phenomenon in which repeated stimuli are evaluated more positively than novel stimuli. We investigated whether this effect occurs for internally generated visual representations (i.e., visual images). In an exposure phase, a 5 × 5 dot array was presented, and a pair of dots corresponding to the neighboring vertices of an invisible polygon was sequentially flashed (in red), creating an invisible polygon. In Experiments 1, 2, and 4, participants visualized and memorized the shapes of invisible polygons based on different sequences of flashed dots, whereas in Experiment 3, participants only memorized positions of these dots. In a subsequent rating phase, participants visualized the shape of the invisible polygon from allocations of numerical characters on its vertices, and then rated their preference for invisible polygons (Experiments 1, 2, and 3). In contrast, in Experiment 4, participants rated the preference for visible polygons. Results showed that the mere exposure effect appeared only when participants visualized the shape of invisible polygons in both the exposure and rating phases (Experiments 1 and 2), suggesting that the mere exposure effect occurred for internalized visual images. This implies that the sensory inputs from repeated stimuli play a minor role in the mere exposure effect. Absence of the mere exposure effect in Experiment 4 suggests that the consistency of processing between exposure and rating phases plays an important role in the mere exposure effect.


Mere exposure effect Visual image Perceptual fluency 


Author note

This work was supported by a Grant-in-aid (JSPS KAKENHI Grant Nos. 20530657, 15K00211, and 26870751) from the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science.

We would like to thank to Prof. Tadashi Kikuchi. He is an important collaborator on this study. However, we are saddened to report that he passed away prior to the completion of this article.


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Copyright information

© Psychonomic Society, Inc. 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and TechnologyTsukubaJapan
  2. 2.Faculty of Engineering, Information, and SystemsUniversity of TsukubaTsukubaJapan
  3. 3.Kwansei Gakuin UniversityNishinomiyaJapan
  4. 4.Rissho UniversityShinagawaJapan

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