Effects of Attention on Subsequent Preference Judgments in Young Adults and Healthy Older Adults
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The mere exposure effect, the tendency to like items that have been previously encountered more than new items, has been explored in great detail in many studies. Many effects are known to modulate the mere exposure effect, such as attention, amount and number of exposures, and certain personality traits. Recently, an attentional manipulation called the distractor devaluation effect has been shown to decrease preference for ignored stimuli. We conducted two experiments to investigate how attentional manipulations would affect the subsequent preference for attended, ignored, and new words. Aging often impacts performance on tasks requiring attention so we examined both young adults and healthy older adults. Results from both Experiment 1 and Experiment 2 showed the mere exposure effect, with older words being liked more than new words. When separating out attended versus ignored old words, we observed differences in the mere exposure effect between Experiment 1 and Experiment 2. In Experiment 1, we found attended words were liked significantly more than new and ignored words, whereas, in Experiment 2, there was no significant differences seen when comparing attended, ignored, and new words. In Experiment 1, we also observed an interaction between age and word condition. While both age groups found the attended words most likable, young adults liked the new words the least whereas older adults liked the ignored words the least. These differences show that there are still important questions to be answered regarding preferences and the role of attention.