Undergraduate Honors Theses

Thesis Defended

Spring 2015

Document Type


Type of Thesis

Departmental Honors



First Advisor

Dr. Tim Curran

Second Advisor

Dr. Richard Olson

Third Advisor

Dr. Margaret Asirvatham


This study investigated Zajonc’s hypothesized link between the mere exposure effect and classical conditioning. In the first part of the experiment, participants were presented a photograph of a person. Each photograph was followed by a presentation of an emotionally positive image, a neutral image, a negative image, or a blank screen. Then, participants were asked to rate the faces presented the first part of the experiment, as well as some novel portraits, on a 6-point Likert scale. Faces that had been presented previously differed significantly from faces not previously seen. However, only faces in the 20 Repetitions + Positive Image condition were rated significantly higher than faces in the new condition. These results suggest some support for Zajonc’s hypothesis because only the strongest positive associations led to a mere exposure effect, but this conclusion must be considered carefully given the mixed statistical support.