What is a Subliminal Message?
Webster’s Dictionary: Subliminal – relating to things that influence your mind in a way that you do not notice
A subliminal message is a visual or auditory message that the conscious brain does not notice, but subconsciously sees or hears. In literal terms, a subliminal message is a message below the threshold of conscious awareness. These messages can influence our behavior, sometimes fairly rapidly, and sometimes it requires time and conditioning for these subliminal messages to impact our actions.
Subliminal Messages Below The Threshold
Subliminal messages are understood below the normal awareness of the conscious mind. For example, have you ever thought you “heard” your phone ringing or a knock at the front door while listening to loud music only to have a “feeling” that made you turn down the music and find out the phone is really ringing or someone is at the door? Then you have experienced a subliminal message. While the loud music kept the conscious mind from hearing the knock at the door or the phone ringing, this stimuli sound was still received just below the threshold of conscious perception in the subliminal (below conscious). This caused the subconscious mind to influence your actions to turn down the music so you could consciously hear the knock at the door.
Other subliminal messages could me visual as well. Have you ever bought a new car in a certain color, then start seeing this car everywhere? This is a form of subliminal messaging influencing your awareness. The car with that color was always prevalent around you, but you did not consciously recognize them. Once your mind linked your desire for your car and color to your conscious mind, your subconscious was fast to start becoming aware of all of the other cars with that color around you.
While this is a bit of a reverse example, it still demonstrates the “below the conscious threshold” nature of the subliminal stimuli. And when you began to be aware that subliminal stimuli is all around you, you will be able to find these examples much faster.
Do Subliminal Messages Work
“Absolutely,” says Jagdish Sleth, the President of the American Psychological Association’s Division on Consumer Psychology. “The controversy has always been over changing people’s attitudes. That you can’t do! What you can do is trigger a prior attitude or disposition.” – Mind Programming by Eldon Taylor
Subliminal messages are a means to install programming into the subconscious mind to influence conscious behavior. If these messages are in alignment with the desires of the conscious mind, the subconscious mind will tend to accept this programming very fast. If the conscious mind completely rejects the intended programming, it is believed the subconscious will also reject the behavioral influence.
To really understand subliminal messages and if they can work, we need to understand a little on how the conscious and subconscious mind work. From a high level psychological view all humans have the conscious mind, the subconscious mind and the reptilian brain. The conscious mind the “aware” part of the mind that is thinking inside of your mind. Think of a dog… the visual image, sound and smell you think of in your mind of a dog is your aware conscious mind working.
The subconscious mind is the “programmed” aware brain that helps move and navigate through your day without your conscious mind needing to focus on all of the available stimuli to complete a task. These internal thoughts happen without your conscious awareness and are the patterns you have learned that allow you do something without using your focus. Take walking and talking at the same time. Typically you are using your conscious mind while talking, and your subconscious mind is controlling all of the muscles, balance, and navigation for your walking. It is this subconscious mind that controls your actions without your conscious mind and why athletes practice the same move 100,000’s of times so they don’t have to think to act in a play, they just act.
The reptilian mind is a part of the subconscious mind that regulates breathing, heart rate, basic bodily functions as well as a few basic emotions. Think of it this way, basic survival skills like “Fight, Flight or Freeze” and visual attraction functions are controlled by the Reptilian brain. It is very basic in thought, connected very closely to the subconscious and the Optical nerve goes straight to the Reptilian brain.
While the results of subliminal messages are somewhat hard to measure since our inner beliefs and values systems can reject the subliminal message. If we have neutral or positive feelings towards the stimuli, then the subliminal message can and will work much faster, allowing scientist to positively measure the results. Through this article, we will show numerous examples of subliminal messages and report on some of the studies that have been done.
I will say in my own life, subliminal messages work if they are in alignment with our conscious desires. I wanted to stop smoking for years, but it wasn’t till I started using subliminal messages in background sounds that I easily stopped. I have also used these subliminal messages to help my relationships, business, health & fitness and confidence levels. I truly believe they work. So much so I have started to become very aware of visual subliminal messages in commercials.
Does it always work 100%. No, that has not been proven. However, a recent study has proved that showing the message “Eat Beef” doesn’t actually induce a craving for beef. It does, however, increase general sandwich like consumption. A consumer’s “preference hierarchy” can’t be changed by these methods, however mental road maps and influences can be impacted.
One of the best videos I have ever seen on the effectiveness of subliminal messages is from “Mr. Manifestation on Subliminal Messages and the proof of how well they influence us”.
Another interesting example is that of using subliminal imagery to add “horror” to a scary movie. Subliminal techniques were employed in the film “The Exorcist”. The subliminal messages were apparently effective enough in inciting enough fear and terror that the Warner Brothers was sued in a $350,000 lawsuit for injuries sustained by a viewer when he fainted and broke his jaw shortly after seeing a subliminal death mask. The suit was settled out of court for an undisclosed amount of money. These subliminal images are common place in movies today.
Subliminal Message Examples
So let’s look at few examples:
Sexual Subliminal Messages In Advertising
Have you ever heard “Sex Sells”? Sex does sell as it is one of the largest motivating factors of our species – to reproduce and keep our genes going. Advertising executives have known this for a very long time, and have used sexual subliminal messages, either hidden or implied, to sell products. It is believed that by tying the emotions and feelings of sex with a product, you will be more likely to buy the product. Here are just a few examples of sexual subliminal messages.
What do you think the creator was implying with this hair advertisement.
What about this Coca-Cola advertisement?
What about the word sex in these examples?
Of course, sex isn’t always spelled out, sometimes it is implied.
Do you see the penis in his stomach muscles?
What does that remind you of?
What about her mouth, hand and the ketchup bottle.
Lastly, this is an interesting video that is believed to be true, though there is some debate as to which video was actually used in 1960.
Does Subliminal Messaging Really Work?
That really is the big question. There are conflicting reports, however if it didn’t work, advertising & movies would not have used these subliminal messages to influence our behavior for the last 60 years.