Educators

Brain Myth -- We learn best by subliminal techniques

A subliminal message is a message embedded into another medium such as an image, movie, or sound, that is intended to seep into our subconscious and influence our behavior.

How was this term created? James Vicary, a market researcher, first coined the term in 1957. Vicary stated that he inserted messages into a showing of a movie. The messages, which flashed for 1/3000th of a second, told moviegoers to drink Coca-Cola and eat popcorn. According to Vicary, Coke and popcorn sales in the theater increased by more than 18% and 57%, respectively. He used this result to substantiate the claim that subliminal messages worked, thus pioneering the idea of subliminal advertising.

In the late 1950s through the 1970s, books began explaining how advertisers could use subliminal techniques to convince consumers to buy their products. But in 1974, the FCC banned the use of subliminal advertising.

The real question – do these subliminal messages work? Can they help us learn? People later found out that Vicary lied about the results of his study, and subsequent studies showed no effect on viewers. Since then, there has been no undisputed scientific evidence that these messages work. Yet some people still claim that some music and advertisements contains hidden messages.

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