Complexity, response competition, and preference - Implications for affective consequences of repeated exposure

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In an attempt to resolve disagreements about the events underlying repeated exposure to a stimulus and the affective consequences of these events, two experiments examined psychological complexity and response competition (two measures of the uncertainty produced by a stimulus) as related to each other and to liking and goodness of meaning ratings of Chinese characterlike stimuli. In Experiment 1, 60 undergraduates' mean latency of first free association to the stimuli (response competition) increased as a perfect monotonic function of the number of lines constituting them (psychological complexity). In Experiment 2, ratings of liking by 40 undergraduates were highest for stimuli associated with an intermediate level of uncertainty (psychological complexity and response competition). Thus it was speculated that a moderate number of stimulus exposures (reducing uncertainty to an intermediate level) is preferable to an indefinitely large number of exposures (reducing uncertainty to a minimal level). The finding of no relationship between rated goodness of stimulus meaning and uncertainty was judged to be consistent with Stang's (1974) hypothesis that characteristically observed increases in rated goodness with increasing stimulus exposures (decreasing uncertainty) are a result of subject intuitions rather than an effect of decreasing uncertainty. © 1977 Plenum Publishing Corporation.



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