Subliminal Stimuli - Consumption and Television

Consumption and Television

Some studies have looked at the efficacy of subliminal messaging in television. Subliminal messages produce only one-tenth of the effects of detected messages and the findings related the effects of subliminal messaging were relatively ambiguous. Also, participants’ ratings of positive response to commercials are not affected by subliminal messages in the commercials.

Karremans suggests that subliminal messages have an effect when the messages are goal-relevant. Subliminally priming a brand name of a drink (Lipton Ice) made those who were thirsty want the Lipton Ice. However, those who were not thirsty were not influenced by the subliminal messages. Karremans did a study assessing whether subliminal priming of a brand name of a drink would affect a person's choice of drink, and whether this effect is caused by the individual's feelings of being thirsty. In another study, participant's ratings of thirst were higher after viewing an episode of "The Simpsons" that contained single frames of the word "thirsty" or of a picture of a Coca-Cola ® can. Some studies have shown greater effects of subliminal messaging with as high as 80% of participants showing a preference for a particular rum when subliminally primed by the name placed in an ad backward.

Many authors have continued to argue for the effectiveness of subliminal cues in changing consumption behavior, citing environmental cues as a main culprit of behavior change. Authors who support this line of reasoning cite findings such as the research that showed slow-paced music in a supermarket was associated with more sales and customers moving at a slower pace. Findings such as these support the notion that external cues can affect behavior, although the stimulus may not fit into a strict definition of subliminal stimuli because although the music may not be attended to or consciously affecting the customers, they are certainly able to perceive it.

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