Effects of Self-Control Resources on the Interplay between Implicit and Explicit Attitude Processes in the Subliminal Mere Exposure Paradigm

  •  Naoaki Kawakami    
  •  Emi Miura    


Recent studies have shown that the mere exposure effect under subliminal conditions is more likely to emerge
for implicit attitudes than explicit attitudes. We tested whether the implicit effects of subliminal mere exposure
could spill over to the explicit level by depleting self-control resources. Participants were subliminally exposed
to a novel female photograph. Then, implicit and explicit attitudes toward an exposed and an unexposed
photograph were measured. This basic design was crossed with a cognitive load manipulation, which should
deplete the capacity of self-control resources (low cognitive load vs. high cognitive load). Results showed that
the subliminal mere exposure effect occurred for not only implicit attitudes but also explicit attitudes when
participants’ cognitive resources were depleted in the high cognitive load condition. In contrast, when cognitive
resources were not depleted, the subliminal mere exposure effect only emerged for implicit attitudes. These
findings support the contention that self-control failures could facilitate implicit effects of subliminal mere
exposure toward the explicit level.

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