A functional explanation for the effects of visual exposure on preference.
Visual exposure to an object can modulate an observer's degree of preference for it, initially enhancing preference (a 'familiarity preference' regime), and eventually lowering it again (a 'novelty preference' regime). Here we investigate whether there may be a functional advantage to modulating preference in this way. We put forth the simple hypothesis that degree of preference for an object of type X is the brain's estimate of the expected utility of acting to obtain X. In the light of this view of what preferences fundamentally represent, we are able to explain the 'exposure effect' and many of the connected phenomena.