Do you wonder if there’s anything to this “subliminal messaging” thing, where you’re being influenced in ways you don’t detect? Well, you are! But not in the ways you think.
People think about subliminal messages in terms of images that flash on the screen too fast to notice consciously, or words spoken too softly to notice consciously. The idea is that the message will be picked up by the unconscious mind (or subconscious mind—same thing), but the conscious mind doesn’t notice. Sort of like hypnosis, but in a context where, instead of getting assistance with the issue of your choice, you’re ambushed by someone else’s agenda.
So here are five things you should know about subliminal messaging:
1. Before Worrying About the Subliminals, Notice the SUPERliminals
For an example of the superliminal vs. subliminal issue, look at Figure 1. Because this pinup calendar picture was distributed to machine shops and garages across the country, the depiction of a lathe is relevant and sensible. But the scantily clad young woman doesn’t belong there! (If she did, she’d be wearing steel-toed shoes, not ballet slippers). The concept of superliminals is to add an element that is powerful yet irrelevant, hoping for a response like: “What a great company, to put out calendars featuring two things I like: scantily clad ladies and brand-new machine tools!” With superliminals, all subtlety is cast aside. You’re supposed to notice.