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What is Subliminal Messaging And How Does It Work?

Tulika Nair
We have all heard about how advertisers and movie makers use subliminal messaging to influence viewers, but does subliminal messaging actually work? Here, we will try and shed some light on how this concept works.
In order to know if subliminal messaging works, it is important to understand what subliminal messaging is. When a person refers to the concept of messages being transmitted subliminally, they are referring to a phenomenon that uses subliminal stimuli and perception. These stimuli are those that cannot be understood by a person under normal circumstances.
Subliminal stimuli works in such a manner that the perception levels for this stimuli are at a much lower level than those that work normally. The time that a person is allowed to consciously absorb the information transmitted is very less in case of subliminal messages.
In case of visual messages, these stimuli are transmitted for few microseconds. Audio messages are either reversed or warped making it difficult for a listener to perceive the message properly.

Subliminal Messages: Do They Work

Whether or not subliminal messages work is a debate that has been going on for quite a few years now. The first time that this concept came to the fore was in the year 1897 when a theory was published by a Yale psychologist about the topic.
Of course, it came in the public eye only in the year 1957 when there was a huge furor created over the fact that advertisers were using subliminal messages to persuade consumers to buy things. The effectiveness of subliminal messaging though has been questioned a lot.
Earlier researchers believed that subliminal messages worked because consumers were better persuaded by advertisements that they did not perceive as marketing strategies. With subliminal messages since there was no direct message that is being transmitted, the consumer would be unable to perceive that there is any sort of influence on you.
With time, the general agreement that subliminal messages work has taken a blow with many experts doubting the influence that subliminal messages have on a consumer.
In fact, it is believed that the effect that subliminal messages have are not only small but also do not have an effect for a long time. There is absolutely no scientific evidence that can prove that subliminal messaging influences consumers one way or the other.
Many experts have actually compared subliminal messaging to a placebo effect where the influence or the persuasion that consumers feel is not a real one but a perceived one. Most of the debate surrounding the working of subliminal messaging or the lack of it comes from very little understanding of the subject.
People often claim that they have been persuaded about things due to the effect of subliminal messaging like audio resources that help you quit smoking. Even if subliminal messages do work, they take time. Therefore, studies that have been conducted over a short period of time are often no reliable.
Subliminal messaging is a concept that has been used not only in advertising but also in movies and games. In movies, subliminal messages are often used to incite a certain emotion in the viewers. For example, it is believed that in the movie, 'The Exorcist', the makers used subliminal messages to incite fear in the people watching the movie.
Scientific studies have proven that subconsciously received messages can be the cause of programming of the mind. The subconscious mind has no control over the messages that it receives. This is the reason why subliminal messages can have an effect as there is active filtering that is taking place to block the messages.
Subliminal messaging is used not only to market and advertise things but also to reprogram your mind to create positive reaffirmations in your mind. These messages act as triggers for subconscious motives and tend to affect your ideas, thoughts and behavior.
Whether or not subliminal messages work is still hugely debated. But, it is a concept that remains in the eye of the storm for a variety of reasons.