Social attraction is a topic every individual has to consider at some point in life eventually. Amongst the reasons people feel attracted to something or someone, there is a sense of familiarity, which is the case of the mere exposure effect. For example, its impact on a beginning of a close friendship can be seen in the scene of Raimi’s Spider-Man (2002) movie, where MJ meets Peter Parker sometime after they graduate from school. This paper will first describe a theoretical background behind the mere exposure effect. Then, it will explain the direct impact and the consequences of this effect in the mentioned movie scene.
The word “social” implies some personal interaction between the chosen individuals. The mere exposure effect takes place if interacting individuals are continuously situated in mutual proximity or, in other words, exposed to each other. According to Aronson et al. (2018), the duration of exposure to a stimulus directly relates to an object’s probability of starting to like it. Thus, when people see one another frequently, they become mutually familiar and have an increased chance to develop an attraction. It is often the case with neighbors, schoolmates, or colleagues – the circumstances oblige them to meet and spend time together constantly.
Peter and MJ have been neighbors since childhood and attended the same school. After they graduated, they did not see each other for a while until they occasionally met on the street. Despite MJ having troubles at her current work, she was glad to meet her old friend and actively engaged in the conversation. At the same time, Peter was also happy because he had met the girl he had been deeply fond of for a long time (Raimi, 2002). They were familiar with each other; thus, there was an opportunity for a conversation, which caused the future romantic development of their relationship.
Familiarity is one of the reasons why people develop a mutual social attraction. The more familiar a person is with someone, the more likely they are to become attracted to the familiarity source. Considering the example above, people who have known each other since childhood were happy to suddenly meet outside the usual environment and expressed a desire to meet again. It is hard to tell whether the outcome would be the same without the proximity prerequisites.
Aronson, E., Wilson, T.D., & Sommers, S.R. (2018). Social phychology. Pearson.
Raimi, S. (2002). Spider-Man [Film]. Columbia Pictures.