Do Commercials Use Subliminal Messages

Published: 10th March 2009
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Do you really know what subliminal messages are?Have subliminal messages ever been used in commercials? Have you ever decided to buy a product because you were following a hidden command embeded in an ordinary commercial? Can these messages really be used to direct your behaviour?

The most common form of subliminal messages are as spoken commands that are used to affect the mind at a subconscious level. The word "sub" is Latin and means anything that is underneath or below. If you study the word submarine you can see where the use of the word "sub" is fitting to the name - because it operates underneath the ocean. In the word "subliminal" the second part is also taken from a Latin word - the word "limen". This Latin word actually means threshold and it is used to represent the threshold between two states of conscious. We can therefore determine that the word "subliminal" is meant to imply something that is "beneath (or below) the threshold of consciousness".

Therefore subliminal messages are "messages that are delivered or accepted underneath the threshold of normal consciousness. Subliminal messages are really just any kind of message that is embedded in another medium so that they go unnoticed by the conscious mind.

It is believed that these messages can be either auditory or visual in nature. They can affect the subconscious mind in a positive or negative way in such a way that they have an effect on later behaviours, thoughts, feelings and attitudes. In fact any type of sustained exposure to subliminal messages or subliminal programming can have a dramatic affect on a person's entire belief and value systems.

The earliest study of the subject of subliminal messages dates back to 1898 when E.W. Scripture published the paper The New Psychology. Although there have been many studies and experiments with subliminal messages the most widely known is the case study by James Vicary. Vicary's 1957 experiment, conducted in a movie theatre, was the first attempt at using subliminal messages for advertising purposes.

He claimed that by flashing the words "eat popcorn" and "drink coke" sales of the two products rose significantly amongst the movie-goers. His results were never duplicated regardless of many attempts and in later years Vicary admitted that his findings were falsified.

However, the damage was already done and subliminal advertising had entered the public psyche, were later outlawed from television and radio by several countries in 1973 and even investigated by the CIA in 1958!

Although Vicary's experiment was a fraud modern research, using the latest technologies have shown that subliminal messages can affect the brain. Scientists are still reluctant to confirm or deny that these type of hidden commands can act as a means for controlling behaviour.

However, if you look at YouTube or several other video sites you can see evidence of the use of subliminal messages in many advertising campaigns.

The fact that multi-billion dollar companies, with huge advertising budgets, have deliberately embedded certain words and visual images into their advertisements gives one rise to believe that they must have some impact on our behaviours when it comes to purchasing goods!

There are stage performers who claim to use subliminal messages to affect an audience member in such away that it appears they are reading his mind. Others use it to influence the decisions of audience members so they perform certain tasks. Derren Brown, the famous English illusionist, is a perfect example.

In the field of personal development and self growth subliminal messages are used in a wide range of products. Many people swear by their effectiveness and there are many examples of how people have changed their lives through the use of subliminal messages. However, it has not been proven, nor has it been disproved, that they affect our buying decisions in any way. We will just have to wait for more research from the scientific community to get clearer on that point. We will just have to wait for further research.


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