Hola mi Gente,
Not working is a lot of work and unhealthy… LOL
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The year is 1957, and actor Cliff Robertson is making his debut in a film called Picnic, which also stars Kim Novak and William Holden. At one showing that year an audience in Ft. Lee, NJ, just across the river from NYC, got more than the film they had come for. Unknown to them, they were part of a marketing experiment. Over and over during the movie, the words Drink Coca-Cola and Eat Popcorn were flashed on the screen — each time for a miniscule three-thousandth of a second.
The people responsible for the hidden commercials claimed Coke and popcorn sold more than usual that evening, which led to an avalanche of outrage from editorial writers and politicians who envisioned a society of zombies spending their life savings on goods without knowing they were doing so.
Fast forward to the early 70s, when a book called Subliminal Seduction was published by Wilson Bryan Key. Key warned readers that erotic images and words hidden in magazine ads were making us desire the advertised products even though we didn’t know what we found so appealing about them. Needless to say, the book became a runaway bestseller and subliminal became a household word.
Since then, the idea that things (stimuli) we’re not consciously aware of can influence us has popped up everywhere. Perhaps you’ve come across people trying to sell you tapes promising to teach you Spanish or help you lose weight. And let’s not forgot televangelical ministers warning us that everything from rock music to Teletubbies contain satanic messages that will warp your children, turning them into unrepentant sodomites. Remember the claims that some rock music contains dark messages recorded backwards and which would unwittingly turn your teen-aged son into a Columbine-styled killer?
The question remains if we should take these claims seriously, or are they, for lack of a better phrase, full of shit? Most people don’t know that studies on subliminal perception have been conducted since the early 1930s and even earlier, and that there is some slight evidence that we can be affected by things we don’t notice. In certain experiments, for example, subjects were more likely to express a preference for a word if they had earlier been exposed to it subliminally.
But it’s a huge gap from such meager findings to the idea that Madison Avenue can effectively brainwash us into buying things without knowing why. The more exaggerated claims of subliminal perception have never been scientifically confirmed. Take the Fort Lee incident: there was no control group to provide a comparison and the findings were never documented or published in a peer-reviewed journal. In addition, the study was never replicated.
As for Key’s sex-in-the-ads claims, you will be hard-pressed to find a researcher who places any importance to his speculations. For example, the headline for an article in Marketing News pretty much summed up what people think: “Subliminal Ad Tactics: Experts Still Laughing.”
A veritable army of psychologists have been unable to find any effect at all when investigating subliminal exposure. Subjects in one study weren’t any more likely to remember slides with the word “sex” embedded in them [sex] than those with no hidden messages. In another study, flashes of Hershey’s Chocolate over the slides didn’t affect subject’s purchases of candy during the following ten days.
One psychologist, pointing out the obvious, submitted that we are not passive pieces of putty that can be easily molded by messages — least of all messages that wouldn’t have much effect even if we were conscious of them. Of course, there’s something fascinating about the idea that advertisers can bypass our critical faculties and reach a hidden zone in our brains that will automatically make us do their bidding. But there’s just no good evidence to support this idea.
Even if subliminal influences can affect our attitude, psychologists point out, the size of that effect would be tiny compared to the effects of what we do notice. In addition, changing our moods is a huge leap from motivating us to buy. Finally, some people are more perceptive than others, which means that flashed messages would have to be brief enough to escape notice from everyone, thus further reducing the chances of their having an effect.
A comprehensive review [sex] of the relevant research concluded that while “subliminal perception is a bona fide phenomenon, the effects obtained are typically subtle” and the whole thing has no “… relevance to the goals of advertising.”
My name is Eddie and I’m in recovery from civilization…
PS: If you’re feeling an overwhelming desire to have sex with me, don’t worry, just PM me. :