We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.
Advertiser Disclosure
Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.
How We Make Money
We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently of our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

What Are Subliminal Stimuli?

By Marlene Garcia
Updated Mar 03, 2024
Our promise to you
The Health Board is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At The Health Board, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject-matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

Subliminal stimuli refer to unconscious perception of words or images that influence behavior without awareness. The theory behind subliminal stimuli producing an emotional response hinges on the speed at which these hidden messages are embedded into other stimuli. Hundreds of research studies exploring the concept of unconscious perception and its effect on behavior failed to produce evidence that the phenomenon exists.

People with certain neurological disorders, and the effects of anesthesia, might guide decisions based on subliminal stimuli, researchers found. Patients suffering from blindsight, a disorder marked by damage in an area of the brain that controls visual perception, might be able to describe images they claim are invisible. Usually one of four quadrants in the visual field is affected by blindsight.

When patients under the effects of anesthesia listened to recordings through headphones, they were later able to correctly guess words heard while unconscious when given the first three letters. These patients were more apt to compose a word repeated during surgery than other words starting with the same letters. Similar results occurred after testing patients suffering from prosopagnosia syndrome, a disorder that prevents recognition of familiar faces. If given a choice between two options, these patients guessed the correct name more often.

One of the most famous case of subliminal stimuli surfaced in 1957, when market researcher James Vicary claimed he flashed subliminal messages during a movie at a drive-in theater. These stimuli lasted 3/1,000th of a second and were repeated every five seconds, urging people to buy popcorn and drink a certain cola beverage. The psychologist claimed sales of both products rose after the subliminal stimuli.

Details of the study were not released, and no independent evidence supported the claims. Vicary later admitted he falsified the study. Other researchers attempted to duplicate the study with mixed results. A British psychologist found in 1970 that people could identify a string of words interspersed with nonsensical words because the mind perceived information unconsciously.

During this same time, another claim was proven false. Researcher Wilson Bryan Key wrote books claiming the word sex was imbedded in advertising and product packaging that unconsciously spurred sexual arousal and caused people to buy the products. Further studies failed to support the theory that words, objects, or pictures used as subliminal stimuli influenced customer purchasing behavior.

Some respected scientists say self-help tapes with hidden subliminal messages prove ineffective to cure bad habits or enhance weight loss. These tapes remain popular as possible solutions to problems because so many people believe in the power of subliminal stimuli. Some experts believe hidden messages do not even exist on these tape recordings.

The Health Board is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.

Related Articles

Discussion Comments
The Health Board, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

The Health Board, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.