Do You Really Like It Or You’re Under The Influence Of This Phenomenon?

A loner and rational thinker

Have you ever encountered something, anything, could be a movie, music, food, dress, a trend of any sort, drink, etc

That instantly, you knew in your guts feeling it wouldn’t resonate with you, however, for reasons mostly outside your direct control, you find yourself developing a strong urge to have a go at it. With time the urge gets stronger due to reoccurring exposure to this activity or stuff. The brain begins to get accustomed to it. Familiarity gradually sets in.

Now, you start to consider giving it a trial. You give it a shot. You start liking it, engage and even defend what you once felt you’d never resonate with.

It could be dancing to a song, or booking a ticket to go see a movie. Ordering that food. A dress. Or even an ideology.

This phenomenon is known as Repetition Bias. psychology.fandom.com defined it as

a cognitive bias in which there is a willingness to believe what we have been told most often and by the greatest number of different sources.

Simply put, Repetition Effect. “I judge repeated information as being more likely to be true than new information.”

And the icing on the cake was done on shortcog.com which defined it as

The repetition of a piece of information can increase its perceived credibility, compared to a new piece of information. We tend to (irrationally) reinforce our belief in information if it is presented to us multiple times. When we are not familiar with a topic, and where the situation is ambiguous, it is normal to look for clues to judge the truth or falsity of a piece of information.

The source of the information, or the context wherein the information is received, can be good external markers to evaluate the truth or falsity in a given situation. However, repetition itself should not serve as a signal of truth, since it does not add anything new to the conversation in terms of credibility. For this reason, the repetition bias is also called the “illusory truth effect”

I have been a victim on numerous occasions. I might not be at the level to completely get a grip around it on a few activities or things I have somewhat gotten used to, for other activities, it took time for me to finally admit I have been under the influence of this phenomenon.

And as you continue to dive in deep with me, you’ll soon see how effective it has been in shaping how we make decisions. The ones that we’d contemplate not venturing into, in the first place.

Top marketing executives know how massively impactful it is towards swaying the public into buying a product or patronizing their brand hence effort is geared towards making sure this phenomenon is created in their marketing campaigns.

Its Social Effect

Well just like always, we sometimes convince ourselves all the things we do, we do at our full accord, unfortunately, this is not the case in all instances, and in just a minute, as always, you’ll get to decide or not if you’re really into what you think you are or just under the effect of this phenomenon.

Do you remember the silhouette challenge, that went viral on TikTok?

It was a massive success that didn’t only benefit the singer of the song Paul Anka but also, contributed to the rapid growth TikTok currently enjoys amongst teenagers.

This challenge took everyone by surprise of its nature. It entails mostly shirtless women dancing provocatively, making use of a red coloured filter. Mostly done in between a door frame. With all the feminine curves visible.

The challenge came up as a result of the rising trend where a woman going naked is seen as being empowered. The challenge rode along that fast-rising trend. But it isn’t about the challenge alone, rather it’s about the effect it had on people. I mean, those that’d ordinarily not contemplate being that revealing.

At first glance, the emergence of the trend, as expected, brought outrage but it wasn’t enough to halt its popularity amongst teens.

The stronger the outrage the more ladies jumped on it. Wasn’t enough to stop the women who wanted to feel “empowered”. It wasn’t about the nature of the challenge, it became a move trying to empower women. And who doesn’t want to feel empowered? If others are doing it, and it’s everywhere, and those participating are getting praised by teenage boys who gawk at curves on display. Why wouldn’t any lady feel justified enough to hop on it?

It became an instant hit. For all parties involved. Coming from their standpoint. But from the moralist standpoint, they’d disagree, however, this isn’t about which is valid but rather how much role repetition bias played in getting people involved in what seems to be “cool” being done by teenage ladies alike. Maybe this doesn’t feel relatable to you which is fine, but as you read on, maybe you’d be able to have a complete picture of the effect of this phenomenon. It brings me to the next point of call which is

It’s Personal Effect

A new song comes out. A monster hit loved and danced to by many. But for some reasons personal to you, could be based on clashing with your personal moral/principle or just outright dislike for the melodies. Either way, you don’t just vibe with the song.

You don’t like the song. So you won’t have it on your phone or tune to a music station that’s playing it. All these, you can control hence you limit your exposure to it, however, there are other factors outside your control. For instance, you could just be taking a walk around your neighborhood and you hear this track blasting from the houses of your neighbors,

Or a party where everyone is dancing to this same track, or in traffic, and you listen to it from the car next to yours, or the city mall across, of cause it’s quite popular and everywhere. Now you can’t run away from it. You encounter these scenarios daily, your brain begins to get accustomed to it. You start wondering why people are so into this song you feel they shouldn’t. Now you feel like giving it a chance, you start to make up justifications to give it a listening ear. Just as everyone likes it, and it’s everywhere. You give it a listening trial, and before you know it, just like everyone else and due to its popularity, you become a fan of it.

Your initial reasons why you wouldn’t buy into it die a natural death.

I am quite guilty with this one, maybe you are too but again, it isn’t about passing judgment but rather, highlighting the effect of this same phenomenon that seems to be helplessly shaping everyday lives of people.

The same occurrence can be said for the multinational food and beverage industries. Not saying it’s an abomination to take carbonated drinks but you could tell the continuous generational effect brands like Pepsi, coca-cola and nestle have in making sure they tap into this effective way to have advertisements everywhere and in the faces of people.

What we constantly see begins to form ideas of concession in our heads and build a bridge of familiarity. Makes it safe, ok, or to sample it if everyone is doing so or it’s everywhere hence it’s fine. Very few people can withstand this phenomenon. And I’m not trying to say it’s a bad thing but rather, being aware of its influence on major decisions we’ve taken that might not necessarily be ok with our person and speaking of which, if you ask most of those ladies who participated in the viral silhouette challenge, the majority will tell you because of the “empowerment” mantra it was sold under and others, it became a cool thing to do. And here is not me trying to judge any party why they’d engage in it but I’d leave you to arrive at your own conclusion on if such was right or wrong a thing to do.

Mass Controlling Mechanism

Not just decision-makers but the majority of the population are in transit. mostly found at airports, subways, banks, or at their place of work/office and all these places have tv sets and the station you’ll catch displaying in these places is either one of CNN, FOX, CNBC, OR SKY networks.

I call them the mouthpiece of the world. They play a huge role in dictating whichever narrative they want a large percentage of the world to tilt towards. With their massive outreach globally it becomes easier to get it done.

Any hot topic and narrative any of the networks decide to focus on concurrently, it begins to trickle down the world and automatically gets adopted by almost anyone who binges on them.

Now let’s not get into whether the narrative is right or wrong but whichever they decide to hang on, they spend weeks on it, covering the same story from different angles, solely focusing on the narrative they want the public to perceive regarding the event they are covering.

Almost all the important places you visit, you bump on any of the networks covering just one story, with different angles but a singular narrative and as it goes on for weeks, it begins to trickle. You begin to buy into the narrative, you simply can’t run away from it. And that’s why sometimes you listen to people discussing international politics, their undertone, and choice of words tally with what you hear constantly on these cable networks.

This phenomenon works that way. Sometimes we are helpless about it but it doesn’t mean nothing can’t be done about it.

Maybe it’s one of the aims of penning this down to bring to the fore how it plays a seemingly unknown yet effective way in determining things we get to consume and make life/emotional/psychologically altering decisions.

So I write this not to dismiss any of your previous decisions you’ve taken on any fronts but rather, to ask if you really like all that you think you do and the ideologies/beliefs/narratives you defend or you’re just under the influence of this phenomenon?

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Bariya Aba

Bariya Aba

Digital Marketing & E-commerce Analyst. || Copywriter.