These studies examined memory encoding to determine whether the mere exposure effect could be categorized as a form of conceptual or perceptual implicit priming and, if it was not conceptual or perceptual, whether cardiovascular psychophysiology could reveal its nature. Experiment 1 examined the effects of study phase level of processing on recognition, the mere exposure effect, and word identification implicit priming. Deep relative to shallow processing improved recognition but did not influence the mere exposure effect for nonwords or word identification implicit priming for words. Experiments 2 and 3 examined the effect of study-test changes in font and orientation, respectively, on the mere exposure effect and word identification implicit priming. Different study-test font and orientation reduced word identification implicit priming but had no influence on the mere exposure effect. Experiments 4 and 5 developed and used, respectively, a cardiovascular psychophysiological implicit priming paradigm to examine whether stimulus-specific cardiovascular reactivity at study predicted the mere exposure effect at test. Blood volume pulse change at study was significantly greater for nonwords that were later preferred than for nonwords that were not preferred at test. There was no difference in blood volume pulse change for words at study that were later either identified or not identified at test. Fluency effects, at encoding or retrieval, are an unlikely explanation for these behavioral and cardiovascular findings. The relation of blood volume pulse to affect suggests that an affective process that is not conceptual or perceptual contributes to the mere exposure effect.

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