May 312011
 
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Question of the Week, 31.5.2011

In 1950s, during the showing of a film in a cinema in New Jersey, the words “Drink Coke” and “Eat Popcorn” were exposed on the screen at a rate below the conscious perception. The claim at the time was that Coke and popcorn sales rose tremendously because of those “subliminal messages”. Since that experiment a lot of rumors raised about this effect. Many advertising, television, radio, and film companies began using subliminal messages, often in the belief that it would enhance the effect of some scene or message. Subliminal messages are also employed in some “revolutionary” teaching audio and video courses.

Only few people know that the initial procedure used was not conducted according to scientific standards, results were not published in any scientific magazine and more important, they have never been reproduced so far. Even more the authors of the study – admitted themselves in 1562 that this was just a fabrication intended to increase customers for his business.[2] Despite the absence of the proofs of the influence on humans in some counties (USA, Grate Britain, Australia and others ) use of subliminal techniques in different media are forbidden.

But maybe there is a way to improve efficiency of the subliminal messages?

[1] The Cargo-Cult Science of Subliminal Persuasion. Anthony R. Pratkanis.
Skeptical Inquirer. – Vol. 16.3, 1992: http://www.csicop.org/si/show/cargo-cult_science_of_subliminal_persuasion

[2] Vokey, J. R., & Allen, S. W. (Eds.) (2005). Psychological Sketches (7th Edition). Lethbridge, Alberta: Psyence Ink. http://people.uleth.ca/~vokey/pdf/Submess.pdf

Yuriy Khalavka

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