Researchers found that briefly displaying words and images so quickly that people do not even consciously notice, does nevertheless change their thinking.
They found it was particularly effective with negative images and words which could alter a person’s mood.
The phrase subliminal advertising was coined in 1957 by the US market researcher James Vicary, who said he could get moviegoers to “drink Coca-Cola” and “eat popcorn” by flashing those messages onscreen for such a short time that viewers were unaware.
His claims led to fears that governments and cults would use the technique to their advantage and it was banned in many countries, including the UK.
Vicary later admitted he had fabricated his results.
But more than 50 years on British researchers have shown messages we are not aware of can leave a mark on the brain.
A team from University College London, funded by the Wellcome Trust, found that it was particularly good at instilling negative thoughts.
“There has been much speculation about whether people can process emotional information unconsciously, for example pictures, faces and words,” said Professor Nilli Lavie, who led the research.
“We have shown that people can perceive the emotional value of subliminal messages and have demonstrated conclusively that people are much more attuned to negative words.”
In the study, published in the journal Emotion, Professor Lavie and colleagues showed fifty participants a series of words on a computer screen.
Each word appeared on-screen for only a fraction of second – at times only a fiftieth of a second, much too fast for the participants to consciously read the word.
The words were either positive (e.g. cheerful, flower and peace), negative (e.g. agony, despair and murder) or neutral (e.g. box, ear or kettle).
After each word, participants were asked to choose whether the word was neutral or “emotional” (i.e. positive or negative), and how confident they were of their decision.
The researchers found that the participants answered most accurately when responding to negative words – even when they believed they were merely guessing the answer.
This is one of the reasons I hate advertisement it screws with you mind and subliminal advertisement should be banned in every country along with all other types of ads.
And lastly shield your minds people.