Understanding and Utilizing the Science of Subliminal Influence
Everyone asks me, “…Can you show me how to use this on my website?”
Yes. But I sometimes wonder if that isn’t more appropriate for The Internet Marketing Course! Internet Marketing Course Seems to me like you shouldn’t just put “that” out there!
OK, here is a foretaste…
Your brain processes subliminal and supraliminal information every day… and it determines your behavior almost to the point you believe you “decided” to do something.
And that’s just not how you and I work.
Your visual processing system has remarkable capabilities.
That’s a pretty cool thing.
Fortunately, most people who try and take advantage of this never read the research that shows that what *they* are doing isn’t working because they are trying to use “messages”; and “messages” in the traditional sense don’t impact buying behavior at all.
But there ARE messages that do not simply IMPACT but CHANGE buying behavior. I’ll give you a four-page sneak preview right here, right now, into what I’m going to go deep with The Internet Marketing Course Team beginning September 1.
Think back: Remember when someone told you to “try subliminal tapes,” for damn near any bogus reason they could get you to buy them. You did, and they didn’t work.
Your brain couldn’t process what wasn’t hitting the auditory system. Two very different senses.
But….what about video?
Can subliminal influence on computer or video actually work?
Just what has been shown in the last year or two that WORKS?
Visual information is encoded and reacted upon by the emotional centers of the brain. Every week, fascinating breakthroughs are being announced within the field of neuroscience and even consumer marketing…but no one wants you to know about it.
It not only can work… we now know how to cause subliminal visual triggers and cues to work; and more importantly, we know why.
You won’t hear about it on the news because researchers are very concerned about this area of study. It’s not being silenced, but it’s definitely not going beyond general press releases upon publication.
Do Any Subliminals Actually Work in a Meaningful Way?
Some kinds of subliminal visual “messages” do indeed work at changing attitudes and behavior when presented visually.
I used the word once but now we have to delete the word “messages” and replace it with CUES.
“Messages,” imply more than one word or sentences…they are not successfully conveyed using subliminal technology.
But CUES are.
And yes, scientists around the globe are concerned about their findings. They worry that the application of such technology will give an unfair “advantage” to advertisers and marketers. Perhaps an enormous advantage.
You’ve heard about “the experiment” (which never really was done) that supposedly took place 50 years ago where the movie theater owner put in visual subliminal images to encourage movie goers to buy popcorn and coke.
The news got out that it was an incredible success. Results were never recorded, however. The study was not a study but a fabricated story.
What’s remarkable is that the way the experiment was reported actually COULD have worked had they actually done it!
Over the years, scientists have wanted to learn about all kinds of things ranging from what causes prejudice and racial stereotyping to how the visual system of the brain absorbs and records information to what kinds of subtle and covert techniques influence others.
Subliminal Technology not only helps us understand ourselves and behavior, but also how we react at an evolutionary/nonconscious level to all kinds of different stimuli.
One recent study on prejudice and racial stereotyping was illuminating and a little scary too.
Research Reveals Subliminals Affect Attitudes
Individuals were shown slides of words that were “neutral” in emotional content. Right before some of the words were shown, an image of an African American man or Caucasian man was flashed at a speed that could not be picked up by human awareness.
Skin response and other measures, including behavioral observation were noted. Then when the individuals shortly thereafter were presented with an error message on their computer that required a problem be fixed, the behavioral differences were striking.
Those individuals (cross cultural) who were subliminally exposed to the subliminal images of the African American man reacted with significantly more hostility than those who had been exposed to the subliminal images of a Caucasian man.
The results were so profound that the study first done in 1997 has been replicated several times since then by different scientists. Subliminal images in this case caused behavioral change in the form of emotional expression.
Sociological ramifications are enormous and incredibly helpful in beginning to understand and ultimately solve prejudice and racial stereotyping, but that isn’t the subject of my work here.
Related Research Agrees
Other researchers presented with this information created new studies where individuals were given a task on a computer. A flash of light would appear somewhere on the screen and the individual would have to move the cursor to that point as quickly as possible. The flash of light included words.
For some people, all of the words within the flash were related to hostility. To other people 1/5 of the words in the flashes were related to hostility. To another group no words in the flashes were related to hostility.
Each individual was presented with a brief description of a person who behaved in an ambiguously hostile fashion. The experimenter(s) found that those individuals subliminally presented with more hostile words in the computer task described the stimulus person in a far more hostile way. Those who were flashed no words related to hostility had no significant negative impression of the individual.
After these results were recorded, one final piece of data was discovered. The individuals had no recognition memory for any of the words in any of the groupings that exceeded chance levels. The words never “hit” conscious awareness.
This study has been replicated.
Subliminal visual perception can change both attitudes toward others and actual behavior.
As researchers discovered and studied these heart-pounding phenomena, they would go on to find what kinds of messages caused attitudinal and behavioral change.
Indeed there are only two categories of subliminal activation that will cause behavioral and attitudinal change. All of the rest of the prompts and stimulations simply don’t work. What does work, works predictably and predictably well. What doesn’t work is an utter failure never exceeding chance.
The research is extensive and no one is bringing it out because they don’t want it misused and abused.
Causing Change with Subliminals
I was like every other college student. I wanted to use the sleep learning audiotapes to learn while I slept. I wanted to use the super dooper speed reading (25 times faster than the Evelyn Wood course!) so I could pound through those annoying textbooks that were as boring as they were heavy. I wanted to use the subliminal cassettes so I could have more confidence, and do everything faster and better, with little effort on my part.
Unfortunately, none of them worked.
We all burned the midnight oil in the dorms with our Calculus texts and problem for the night with only our brains. No other gateways were opened. It wasn’t long before I became disenchanted.
Lack of money caused an investment in a 7-tape audio program in 1983 on how to bring instant prosperity. Subliminal. Recorded by professional sound engineers. I spent the $100. Nothing. On a few other occasions desperation led to unwise investment and my desire to improve was never helped. Same as everyone else’s story. I was doing as well as I could in the circumstances and the very nice sounding musical selections were doing little more than relaxing me.
Having spent thousands of dollars and had zip to show for it in return, I confess I was bitter on the entire concept of subliminals. I did some research. Scoured the textbooks and journal articles. Everyone else except the person selling the subliminals found the same thing I spent tons of money on. They don’t work.
Then about eight years ago, I found myself writing a diatribe about subliminals and their impotence. I got the typical letters and emails from those who sold them demanding withdrawal of my comments. That wasn’t possible… And…I got one email that detailed numerous studies that had just taken place in the prior year about the value of VIDEO subliminals and visual priming to cause attitude and belief change.
My initial reaction was skepticism (I anticipate you know that is my nature…) but appreciative for the intelligent and even-minded tone with which the email was sent. I went to the original articles. There was indeed something working and working very well in some subliminal videos and various computer experiments where subliminal messages were being used to change the attitude or behavior of the user. This was clear. It was fascinating stuff. I was captivated.
For the next six years (to date), I have followed subliminal research closely and experimented with many of the facets of subliminal perception and what works…and what doesn’t in the video/visual area.
There was always the nagging thought, “If audio doesn’t work…why would the video?”
If, as one study showed, you could help elderly people enhance their memory and activity level after visual subliminal exposure…why not on an auditory level.
The reason it turns out was very simple.
The Differences Between Audio & Visual Processing
Our auditory system has a very different make up than our visual system. It turns out that the failure of audio subliminals is not in the diligent creation of the tapes using the latest recording equipment….it is in the antiquated auditory system. The brain is simply not primed by subliminal audio perception.
The analogy of being at a rock concert in front of the speakers blaring full blast while two people talk at the top of their lungs 20 rows back and can’t even hear each other…and their very loud conversation is confusing and unheard even by each other. It has zero impact on you at the front. The sound of the two people is masked (You learn about this in tinnitus reduction and auditory habituation research) and is not perceived in any fashion.
On the other hand, our visual system meets capacity with approximately 10,000,000 bits of information per second. What you see in one hour, unfiltered, would fill the hard drive of 98% of computers.
Meanwhile our brain can process about 45 bits of information per second. (A few words at most) When reading, it processes about 30 bits per second. (A little more if reading silently.) When doing mental computations we can process about 12 bits of information per second.
In 10 minutes, your unconscious mind filters and processes 6.6 billion bits of information. Most of it is instantly deleted. A tiny fraction (but still a lot of bits!) is coded into implicit (not explicit) memory. That information can prime behavior, though unless targeted…won’t. Of that tiny fraction, you aren’t going to “remember” it for recall, but it will be there for potential recognition. You’ll recognize the face but you won’t remember the detailed content of the book that you try to hyper speed-read. You will unconsciously recognize those things that trigger crucial needs for survival. (Eating, sex, acquisition, etc.)
And, when done correctly, stimuli that are presented subliminally (under the radar of conscious awareness) your behavior…and mine…can be primed without our knowledge.
This happens in lots of ways.
Visually Presented Subliminals
In the case of the video, a message can be flashed so quickly on a screen or TV that you don’t see it but your unconscious mind …caught it. The unconscious mind doesn’t evaluate the information; it simply is primed to move in the direction of the subliminal.
Of course, most of us don’t walk around with a subliminal video that we can show our prospective buyers, clients, or mates. So you have to change the strategy from flashes of information on a TV screen to a specific subliminal message in the immediate environment.
And it has to be presented in a very specific fashion to be effective. Researchers testing visual subliminals urging participants to drink Coca Cola found only one way that subliminals would work. All the rest failed.
It is this subliminal perception and the ensuing encoding, filtering, deletion, and similarity matching in the brain that in large part causes those things like “love at first sight,” “instant sale” and sense of comfort (or not) you experience in one place but not another.
Most attempts at subliminal persuasion don’t work simply because the person attempting the influential strategy don’t know how to make it work. It is in fact…a predictable phenomenon. Done correctly, you will know in advance if your technique will work.
Video Subliminal Imaging Works
It turns out that visual subliminal perception is a valuable asset and one that doesn’t work while you sleep…doesn’t cause instant prosperity…but does cause attitudinal and behavioral change in the majority of people…and I’m going to show you precisely how to utilize this competitive advantage.
You’ll find out the simple scientific evidence of why affirmations (repeating phrases over and over…or listening to them on a tape or watching them on a subliminal video) don’t work…with one very crucial and startling exception.
Can Subliminals Be Mis-used?
One recent study showed the power of subliminals and it’s potential for misuse.
Showing slides of 9 different pictures of the same individual to a group of people, individuals wrote down how they felt about the individuals they saw in the slides.
The first group found the individual to be fun, exciting, and kind. The other group found the individual to be hostile, unkind, scary. Neither group reported seeing anything but the faces in the slides when queried.
Those that reported the positive information had unwittingly been shown very short images of Mickey Mouse, Disneyland and other fun stuff, before the slides. Those that reported negative feelings had been unwittingly shown very brief images (13 ms. each) of sharks and other nasty things.
Take-away? Subliminal perception can cause attitudinal change and CREATE attitudes all by themselves.
Granted that is fascinating, but here is something shocking. In a similar study pairing “subliminal” faces evoking happy and positive feelings with a neutral (expressionless) face and then another set of neutral faces paired with unhappy and angry faces something amazing happened…
As you might have predicted, the participants rated the neutral faces that were paired with positive faces as positive… later. The same was true with the negative.
However, the incredible thing was that when presented with the neutral faces months later, the group still paired the positive with positive and negative with negative. There was no decay! The implications of course are enormous…and THIS is why scientists are so wary to publish about visual subliminal research.
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