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Subliminal Messages Essay, Research Paper

Subliminal Messages in Ad: The Case For

and Against Lisa Caswell Syracuse University

Runing Head: Subliminal Messages Subliminal

messaging and subliminal perceptual experience are

controversial subjects in the field of psychological science.

Many surveies have been conducted to find if

subliminal messaging does in fact work. Many

people think that subliminal messages in the field of

advertisement are much more successful than

subliminal messages for self-improvement, such as

tapes sold to assist the consumer lose weight, addition

intelligence, or do something else to better

themselves merely by listening to a tape. Subliminal

advertisement can be defined as “ implanting stuff

in print, sound, or picture messages so faintly that

they are non consciously perceived. ” Rogers and

Smith ( 1993 ) surveyed 400 families. When

asked if they believed advertizers intentionally

included subliminal messages, 61.5 % responded

& # 8216 ; yes & # 8217 ; . A 72.2 % & # 8216 ; yes & # 8217 ; reply was obtained when

asked if subliminal advertizements were effectual.

Based on these consequences, it can be concluded that

consumers are cognizant of subliminal advertisement, and

believe it is efficaciously used by advertizers to

act upon their determinations. The term “ sub-threshold

effects, ” foremost popularized by Packard in 1957,

preceded the popular impression of “ subliminal

advertisement, ” whose conceiver is James Vicary.

Subliminal advertisement foremost came to the public & # 8217 ; s

attending in 1957 when Jim Vicary conducted a

subliminal advertisement scheme of interspersing

“ imbibe Coca-Cola ” and “ eat popcorn ” messages

on a film screen so rapidly that they could non

be seen consciously by the audience. His research

ab initio reported additions in the gross revenues of both

Coca-Cola and popcorn as a consequence of the

subliminal messages. Later, nevertheless, when he

was challenged and could non retroflex or even

bring forth the consequences, Vicary admitted that the

consequences of the initial survey had been fabricated

( Weir, 1984 ) . Key ( 1989 ) has more late

claimed that hidden or embedded messages are

widespread and effectual. Key & # 8217 ; s theories have

been widely discredited by bookmans who have

examined selling applications scientifically

( Moore, 1982 ) . Although a few scholarly surveies

hold reported certain limited effects of exposure

to subliminal stimulations in research lab scenes

( Greenwald, Klinger, and Liu, 1989 ) , most

academic research workers on the topic have

reported findings which indicate no practical or

predictable consequence in an advertisement scene ( Dixon,

1971 ) . The 1957 Vicary survey has been mostly

disregarded in the scholarly community due to miss

of scientific certification of methodological analysis and

failure to retroflex. However, scholarly findings

and industry averments may hold had small or no

consequence on the mean American, who has been

exposed to popular articles and books advancing

the impression that subliminal advertisement is used and is

effectual. In add-on, Americans have been

exposed to advertizements claiming that self-help

audio-tapes and videotapes incorporating subliminal

stuffs can assist the buyer with weight loss,

better relationships, an improved golf game,

discontinuing smoke, and even deliver control.

Awareness of Subliminal Messaging by the Public

Many in the populace are cognizant of the term

“ subliminal advertisement, ” understand the rudimentss of

the construct, and believe it non merely is used by

advertizers but is besides successful in act uponing

trade name and purchase pick. Shortly after the

Vicary survey was brought to the public & # 8217 ; s attending

( Brean, 1958 ) , Haber ( 1959 ) sought to spot

“ precisely what the public believes about subliminal

advertisement when so small factual information is

available. ” Consequences of this survey determined that 41

per centum of 324 respondents had heard of

subliminal advertisement, and although half believed it

to be “ unethical, ” 67 per centum stated that they

would still watch a telecasting plan even if they

believed subliminal messages were embedded in

the commercials. Two decennaries subsequently, a study of

209 grownups conducted by Zanot, Pincus, and Lamp

( 1983 ) reported dual the consciousness degrees of

the Haber survey. The Zanot study concluded that

81 per centum had heard of subliminal advertisement and

that “ respondents believe that subliminal

advertisement is widely and often used and that it

is successful in selling merchandises. ” The same study

determined that educational degree is the

demographic variable most extremely correlated with

consciousness of subliminal advertisement ; the more

educated the respondent, the more likely he or she

is to be cognizant of the phenomenon. A survey by

Rogers and Smith ( 1993 ) found that the more

instruction a individual has ( and hence the more

chance to larn of the restrictions of the

subliminal persuasion phenomenon ) , the more

likely one is to believe that subliminal advertisement

“ plants. ” A 1985 survey by Block and Vanden

Bergh appraising consumers & # 8217 ; attitudes toward usage

of subliminal techniques for self-reformation

found some consumer incredulity and reported

more favourable attitudes among those who were

less educated and younger. Three studies

conducted in the past decennary have demonstrated

that a bulk of American grownups are cognizant of

“ subliminal advertisement ” and believe advertizers

sometimes utilize it to sell merchandises. The three

studies spanned a wide geographic spectrum

( Washington, D.C. ; Honolulu, Hawaii ; and

Toledo, Ohio ) . All three studies opened with

inquiries that determined whether the respondent

was cognizant of subliminal advertisement and

determined whether or non basic cognition was

present and sufficient for continued treatment.

Staying inquiries in all three studies assessed

beliefs about the phenomenon, as distinguished

from cognition. Each survey covered somewhat

different land. Each was capable to different

restrictions, yet all three produced similar findings.

All three studies found similar proportions who

were cognizant of subliminal advertisement, who

believed that it is used by advertizers, and who

idea that it “ works ” to assist sellers sell

merchandises. Awareness of Subliminal Messaging by

the Ad Industry A study of advertisement

bureau members, their clients and media

production professionals was conducted by

Rogers and Seiler ( 1994 ) as to whether or non

they have of all time used, or been connected with a

house that used, subliminal advertisement. Based on a

response rate of 36 per centum, the reaction was

about nem con negative, and grounds

suggests that the few positive responses were due

to a misinterpretation of the term “ subliminal

advertisement. ” The consequences revealed that the bulk

denied of all time utilizing this advertisement scheme, despite

the public & # 8217 ; s frights of this method of & # 8216 ; brainwashing. & # 8217 ;

In add-on, a important portion of the minority that

answered in the affirmative is shown to hold

misinterpreted & # 8217 ; subliminal & # 8217 ; as & # 8217 ; subtle. & # 8217 ; The

advertisement industry trade imperativeness has for decennaries

ridiculed the impression of utilizing hidden or embedded

messages in advertizements. A important

per centum ( 75 to 80 per centum ) of the U. S.

population believes that advertisement bureaus and

the companies they represent intentionally use

subliminal advertisement. These consumers besides

believe that subliminal advertisement really “ plants ”

even though research surveies have shown that no

important effects can be identified as a consequence of

utilizing subliminal imagination in advertizements ( Rosen

and Singh, 1992 ) . Consumers spend about 50

million dollars a twelvemonth on subliminal self-help

merchandises ( Krajick, 1990 ) . Scholars have

researched advertizements with subliminal

messages embedded in them and thei

R effects

( Beatty and Hawkins, 1989 ) . These surveies have

by and large refuted the possibility of arousing

predictable responses that could be utile to

sellers. No 1 has tried to find whether

the advertisement community has intentionally utilized

subliminal messages ( Kelly, 1979 ; Dudley, 1987 ) .

The advertisement industry has repeatedly denied the

usage of subliminal embeds, and interpreters

within the industry have used such common-sense

statements against its likely usage as: “ If

subliminals worked, wouldn & # 8217 ; t there be text editions

on how to pattern it? ” and “ How can demo

person a phallus acquire him or her to exchange, state,

from Kent ( coffin nails ) to Marlboro? ” ( Kanner,

1989 ) . Wilson Bryan Key & # 8217 ; s ( 1972, 1976, 1980,

1989 ) Hagiographas, and frequent public-speaking

presentations, may hold served to advance the

construct and purported usage of subliminal

persuasion by advertizers. While his theories have

been widely discredited by bookmans ( Moore,

1982 ) , his Hagiographas still appeal to consumers and

maintain the inquiry current: bash advertizers utilize

subliminal advertisement intentionally in order to arouse a

predictable response by consumers? Kelly ( 1979 )

asserts that this inquiry is highly of import but

unanswered by bing research, which focuses

on whether subliminal advertisement might be

effectual if it were used, and non on whether it is

used intentionally. One manner of placing whether

in bureaus and the client companies they

represent consciously use subliminal advertisement to

aid sell their merchandises is to study them. It was

non until 1984 that a formal research survey was

undertaken to find if advertizers intentionally

used subliminal embeds as an advertisement scheme.

In his study of 100 advertisement bureau art

managers, Haberstroh ( 1984 ) inquired whether any

of these art managers had of all time intentionally

embedded, supervised an embedding, or had

cognition of an embedding of a subliminal

message in advertisement graphics for a client. His

findings indicated that, of the 47 useable responses,

merely 2 answered “ yes ” to any of the inquiries.

When he checked open-ended accounts by

these two respondents, he determined there was

confusion on the portion of the respondents to the

implied definition of “ subliminal embeds ” and that,

seemingly, none of the 47 participants had of all time

used subliminal messages ( Haberstroh, 1984 ) . The

Affects of Subliminal Messaging Vokey and Read

( 1985 ) were unable to happen any grounds to

support the claim that subliminal messages affect

behaviour in their survey. Key is a major figure in the

statement that subliminal messaging non merely

occurs, but is besides effectual. Key claims that a

assortment of subliminal techniques are used to

capitalise upon the public & # 8217 ; s compulsion with sex.

These include the obvious usage of sexual imagination

within the verbal and pictural content of

advertizements. Examples of Key & # 8217 ; s research

include both the Playboy ads and the rum pictorial

ads. Key asserts that the subliminal sexual imagination

included in a Playboy magazine advertizement

picturing a bare adult female efficaciously renders the

ad more memorable. He stated that about 95 % of

college males remembered sing this ad an

full month subsequently. It is besides possible that the

college pupils would hold remembered the ad

every bit good without the embedded imagination. There

is ample informations to show that college pupils

can probably acknowledge 95 % of even comparatively

extended sets of images shown to them. In the

instance of the rum ads, Key felt that the account

for an overpowering penchant for a peculiar

trade name of rum is the embedded presence of the

phrase “ u bargain ” in a pictural ad picturing four

types of rum. No research worker since has been able

to happen the message in the ad. Key claims that 80 %

of the topics in his surveies unconsciously

perceived the backward message, ensuing in a

marked penchant for the rum with the message.

Cardinal garbages to believe that the fact that the

preferable rum is the lone 1 with the words

“ excess particular ” written on the bottle, or that it is

much darker than the others and presented in a

high-status brandy-snifter in a larger bottle has

anything to make with the penchant. A survey by

Vokey and Read ( 1985 ) was conducted to prove

Key & # 8217 ; s hypothesis on the embedding of sexual

messages on images. Participants in the survey

recognized the images imbedded with sexual

imagination, random imagination, and no imagination at the

same rate. Key suggested that it frequently takes at

least a twenty-four hours to see the consequence of the subliminal

stuff. Vokey and Read waited two yearss and

found that the participants who waited the two

yearss to bespeak what slides they had antecedently

seen remembered less than those who indicated

what slides they had seen instantly. Every

consequence in the survey disagreed with Key and his

thoughts sing subliminal messages. It is hard

to believe that while there has been so much

research completed turn outing that non merely are

subliminal messages non used, but that subliminal

messages are wholly uneffective in altering or

act uponing behaviour, the populace so strongly

believes in the influence. After all the research, the

populace still fears subliminal messages and the

effects they could hold. Psychologists must work

to educate the populace in the affair of subliminal

messages. It is as if subliminal messages are like

superstitious notions. Everyone knows that it is merely a

superstitious notion that if one breaks a mirror it will convey

on seven old ages of bad fortune, yet most people will

go rather disquieted if they do interrupt a mirror.

Most people realize that subliminal messages do

non hold a strong consequence, yet they are still

superstitious about them. The paranoia brought on

by the thought that the encephalon can be influenced by

subliminal messages is great. No 1 likes the thought

that their ideas and beliefs are being altered

without their cognition or consent. Education

sing advertisement patterns and the

non-existent effects of subliminal messages would

aid to bridge the spread between the cognition and

beliefs of the industry, and the cognition and

beliefs of the populace. Mentions Townsend, J. M. ,

Levy, G. D. ( 1990 ) . Effectss of Potential Partners & # 8217 ;

Costume and Physical Attractiveness on Sexuality

and Partner Selection. Journal of Psychology.

371-379. Block, M. P. , and Vanden Bergh, B. G.

( 1985 ) . Can You Sell Subliminal Messages to

Consumers? Journal of Advertising. 59-62. Dixon,

N. F. Subliminal Ad: The Nature of a

Controversy. London: McGraw-Hill, 1971.

Greenwald, A. G. , Klinger, M. R. , and Liu, T. J.

( 1989 ) . Unconscious Processing of Dichoptically

Masked Wordss. Memory and Cognition. 35-47

Haber, R. N. ( 1959 ) . Public Attitudes Regarding

Subliminal Advertising. Public Opinion Quarterly.

291-93. Key, W. B. ( 1972 ) . Subliminal

Seduction: Ad Media & # 8217 ; s Manipulation of a

Not-So-Innocent America. New York: Signet.

Moore, T. E. ( 1982 ) . Subliminal Ad:

What You See Is What You Get. Journal of

Selling. 38-47. Packard, V. The Hidden

Persuaders. New York: Pocket Books, 1957.

Rogers, M. , and. Seiler, C. A. ( 1994 ) . The

reply is no: a national study of advertisement

industry practicians and their clients about

whether they use subliminal advertisement. Journal of

Advertising Research. 36-46 Rogers, M. , Smith,

K. H. ( 1993 ) . Public perceptual experiences of subliminal

advertisement: why practicians shouldn & # 8217 ; t disregard this

issue. Journal of Advertising Research. 10-19.

Vokey, j. R. , and Read, J. D. , Subliminal

Messages: Between the Devil and the Media.

American Psychologist. 1231-1239. Zanot, E. J. ,

Pincus, J. D. , and Lamp, E. J. ( 1983 ) . Public

Percepts of Subliminal Advertising. Journal of

Ad. 39-45.

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