The mere-exposure effect

Published 11:01 am Saturday, September 28, 2019

Karen Stevens

The mere-exposure effect is a psychological phenomenon by which people tend to develop a preference for things merely because they are familiar with them. 

In social psychology, this effect is sometimes called the familiarity principle.  

The “Mona Lisa” was not the most popular painting.  As a matter of fact, artist and museums insulted it long before it hung in the Louvre.  In 1911, it was stolen out of the Louvre, and newspapers ran many stories talking about it was the only painting that was actually taken.  So why only that painting?  

It was returned two years later and received more press.  It became popular because of the exposure, not because it was so spectacular.  

If you Google the painting, you will see people talking about the lighting, etc. but the real story is that the more people see something, the more they like it.  The more they give credence to it.  

This is the same principle in advertising.  

The more someone sees the name, the more they are apt to purchase that name brand.  

And then there is the name of Jesus.  We should be advertising about how great God is, how worthy His son is, how awesome the Holy Spirit is.  

It’s funny though; it seems to have a reverse effect on how people view Christianity.  It appears the more they hear about God, the more complacent they become. 74% of Americans claim to be Christian, but in 2013 it was reported that only 39% attend church regularly.  And only 17% of those Christians tithe.  

Is this because Americans have given Christianity a bad name by not really living the life of Christ?  Americans always want the latest and greatest fad, and since Jesus has been around over 2000 years, Christians have grown cold toward God.  

In Revelation 3:15-16 – God is talking to the church in Laodicea and says, “I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I could wish you were cold or hot.  So then, because you are lukewarm and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth.”  

The church of Laodicea which is now situated near the modern city of Denizli, Turkey; has this stigma attached to its name.  According to the Merriman dictionary, if you want a word that means “lukewarm and indifferent, especially in religious matters”, you would use the word Laodicea.  Do the American Christians want to be the church of Laodicea? Do we really want to get to heaven and hear God say that about us? Do we want to be spewed out of God’s mouth, not worthy of heaven?  

There is a way to change this.  Read your Bible daily and pray. God will do the rest.  

It’s amazing how little effort we have to put forth for God to step in and meet us.  He really does love us, but He will only be rejected for so long. 

Jesus said in John 14:15-17

“If you love me, keep my commandments. 16 And I will pray to the Father, and He shall give you another Comforter, that He may abide with you forever; 17 Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth Him not, neither knoweth Him: but you know Him; for He dwelleth with you, and shall be in you.”  

God is telling us if we keep His commands, He will give us great strength, and power thru His Spirit.  

Put forth the initial effort to read and pray today, and you will receive the power you need to continue on.


Karen Y. Stevens is the founder of Orange County Christian Writers Guild