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persuasion tactics, subliminal influence, resolution television, subliminal priming

Is Subliminal Influence a Threat?

Author: Todd I. Stark

© 2/1999 ToddStark@AOL.COM

Potentially,
yes, subliminal influence of various kinds could represent some sort of social
threat.  It isn't likely that people could be turned into automatons by subliminal
influence, but it is arguable that we are already greatly, even unfairly, being influenced
by carefully crafted psychologically sophisticated persuasion tactics. 

size="2">The development of new technologies, such as high resolution
television, make the possibilitues even greater.  The incredible amount of time most
of us spend in front of a television  creates a real potential for even a relatively
weak message to become effective through sheer massive repetition.


The potential is not just that people might be persuaded
to favor one product over another arbitrarily, or buy junk that they don't need.
  There is also a potential that our morals might be subtly usurped, and that the
entire social and political structure could be influenced by swaying our voting
preferences and decisions on important issues.  This is by no means limited to
"subliminal" influences !  It is true of all sources of information that we
accept uncritically.


To the extent that we are already greatly
influenced by mass media, the situation can only become more complex with increasing
technology. 


Are we currently being influenced subliminally
?  Even James Vicary, the inadvertent founder of the subliminal movement, was
amazed that people found his invention such a threat.  Read more on the href="http://www.parascope.com/articles/0397/sublim.htm">background history of
subliminal influence to put it into better perspective.  Vicary considered it to be
most useful as a way to reinforce an advertisers message in a more efficient way, not as a
way of changing buying behavior.  This is closer to what researchers find in their
subliminal priming experiments. 


But remember that the public later came to use the term subliminal
in a much broader way than applies to Vicary's device or subsequent image flashing
devices.  Many of the basic principles of influence discovered by social
psychologists also fall under the wide umbrella commonly intended by subliminal as
any hidden message or influence.  These are definitely effective, and definitely
widely used to persuade us. 


The danger is not specifically from unseen
messages. It is from the holes in our thinking that can be exploited in all sorts of ways.
  Unseen and unheard messages are neither the most threatening nor the most effective
forms of influence that we should be concerned about.

Suggested Pdf Resources

Trait anxiety modulates supraliminal and subliminal threat: Brain
subliminal threat: Brain potential evidence for early and late processing influences. Wen Li, RichaRd e. ZinbaRg, and Ken a.
Conscious intrusion of threat information via unconscious priming in
The role of subliminal visual processing of threat - ahealthymind.org
Abstract: Objective: Previous research has demonstrated that subliminal threat cues can influence eating behavior.
Neural Mechanisms Underlying Selective Attention to Threat
conscious awareness through subliminal presentation of threat stimuli. .
Implicit stereotypes and women's math performance: How implicit
gender-math stereotypes influence women's susceptibility to stereotype threat math performance under stereotype threat and reduced threat conditions. Results .

Suggested News Resources

Invisible Christian Privilege
This is not just a subliminal message given to the follower, but an actual teaching in the church. So many Sundays I sat in the pews while this pastor or that reverand got “amen brother! Tell it!
Arab Spring, A Clash of Civilizational Paradigms
This was an era when America could justify its overweaning influence in Europe, to the extent even of trying to control DeGaulle, by pointing to the “evil other” as a mortal threat to everyone.
War, Hollywood, and the Saviors and Slaughterers of Freedom
Hollywood, in conjunction with academic and military research institutions, has honed in on subliminal psychology and ways to more deeply impact and influence human emotion.

Suggested Web Resources

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A Primer on Subliminal Persuasion | Personal development articles
scientists, who have studied subliminal messages, characterize it as a temporary, lexical priming, weak effects. However, many psychologists claim that subliminal influence is nothing but a misconception . Are Subliminal Effects a Threat?