Parenting and the Mere Exposure Effect

Marketing strategies are quite useful when helping your child develop into the person they will be

August 20, 2016

Marketing strategies are quite useful when helping your child develop into the person they will be.

Anyone who is a parent has no doubt wondered at one time or another what it would take to get their child to listen and do what is asked of them without having to constantly be told. Well, the answer is simple: all you need is to produce repeated exposure to whatever it is you want them doing. It may sound overly simple, but it is actually the basis of a psychological trait known as the mere-exposure effect. And it can give your kids the nudge they need to start doing what you say.

What is the mere-exposure effect?

Simply put, the mere-exposure effect is a psychological term that refers to the way a person can develop a preference for something simply because of repeated exposure to it.

In other words, consider this: children develop a love for McDonald’s due to constant exposure to it everywhere, from commercials on TV and radio to simply seeing it on the road. An adult may get a contract with Verizon simply because of the amount of exposure they have to the brand compared to other companies. In the grocery store, you are more likely to go with brand names you recognize because of repeated exposure to them.

But the mere exposure effect does not just come into play with consumer goods. After years of being in the car with your parents, you are likely to pick up their driving habits once you get behind the wheel yourself.

Using Mere Exposure as a Parenting Technique

When kids are exposed to something regularly enough they will pick up those habits themselves. It is all a matter of giving the right amount of exposure to what you want them to start doing themselves.

If you want them to practice safe driving habits, then it is important that you practice those same habits yourself. Ideally, you should start this when they are younger so that they have more exposure to it. Seeing these habits on a regular basis will help to nudge them in the right direction so that once they start driving, they will copy your good habits.

Similarly, you can use this technique as a way to instill good manners in your children. By constant and repeated exposure to good behavior, they will pick up on it and adopt it themselves.

Something to Keep in Mind

While the mere exposure effect is a great method to help nudge your kids in the direction you want them to go, it is important you do not come off as the “enemy” in terms of telling them what to do. If they feel you are not on their side, then they are less likely to to be well affected by repeated exposure.

The mere exposure effect is an interesting concept that plays a large role in a person’s everyday life, whether they realize it or not. From your favorite fast food place to the way you behave, it is all at least a small reflection on what you have been exposed to. That said, if used the right way, the mere exposure effect can be just the nudge your kids needs to start doing what you ask of them.


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