Friday, July 8, 2011

Subliminal Messages: abcdreadthisefghi

So every now and then, we find ourselves presented with a subliminal message. Whether it's on TV, your local news paper, or the internet, there's always one exposed to someone. Subliminal messages are generally overlooked, but they are faint and usually not noticeable at first to the average person.

Public attention to subliminal messaging was brought by James Vicary in the late 1950s. He had the phrases "EAT POPCORN" and "DRINK COKE" flash during the movie Picnic. As a result, he found some success by seeing the increase in popcorn and coke sales. Although Vicary says that his study wasn't really a study, it doesn't mean it didn't work. It happened to work well on the audience for that showing of Picnic, right? A study in Canada took place in which the phrase "Phone Now" flashed on the screen throughout a show. It concluded with the phone company customers didn't increase phone usage, but they felt that they wanted to do something. It seems that they don't really influence people well.

When you search for "subliminal messages" on a search engine such as Google, many of the results you'd find are sexual references on things like food, alcohol, or cartoons. There are also websites that stimulate your mind with brainteasers and other mind tricks. There's just way too many examples out there to even list.

Overall, I'm pretty sure the average person wouldn't notice a subliminal message unless it's repeatedly exposed to them or if they're actually looking for one. I know I don't notice much since these messages aren't really intended to be found and meant for lower thresholds of perception. It makes me wonder what subliminal messages affected me in my past.

Lawson, Timothy J. Scientific Perspectives on Pseudoscience and the Paranormal: Readings for General Psychology. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education, 2006. Print.

1 comment:

  1. I think this whole thing might have some more effects than people think. I would assume that people are persuaded to buy things, with or without the help of subliminal messages.
    Also, a little something entertaining. I was at a renaissance fair, and while at a side show, I noticed that there were signs on the trees that said subliminal message, I thought that was very amusing.