How Subliminal Messaging Affects Consumer Behavior

1561 Words Mar 19th, 2008 7 Pages
How Subliminal Messaging Affects Consumer Behavior

The subject of subliminal messaging in relation to consumer behavior presents an interesting dichotomy between the scientific community and the general public. The purpose of this paper is to discover what, if any, effect subliminal messaging has on consumer behavior, as well as shed light on the differing positions regarding this controversial subject, and provide a brief historical background on the material.

Before the topic of subliminal messaging can be addressed, one must first understand subliminal perception. Subliminal perception is defined as "the processing of stimuli presented below the level of the consumer's awareness." (Solomon, p.629) Subliminal messaging is
…show more content…
The statements made by Keys in concert with the findings of Vicary would appear to paint a very clear picture of subversive forces at work compelling the consumer to make purchasing decisions that are driven by inexplicable urges outside of their conscious realm. The scientific facts, however, indicate that much of the positions of Keys and Vicary are, at best, hyperbole. The president of the Psychological Corporation, Dr. Henry Link challenged Vicary to reproduce his findings in another study, but Vicary was not able to do this. (Adams) Since Vicary made his claims about projected messages, his claims have failed to stand up to scientific scrutiny. Research has shown that strong stimuli yields strong response, and the weaker stimuli produce the weakest responses. (Rogers, p. 15) Furthermore, Vicary admitted in 1962 interview with Advertiser Age magazine that the entire program had been nothing more than a gimmick. (Danzig) It is estimated that Vicary had made millions of dollars from working as a consultant during his ‘research.' (Rogers, p. 15)

Dr. Key's positions were not above critical review from his peers as well. Jack Haberstroh took Key's hypothesis to task in his book Ice Cube Sex when he states, "Subliminal advertising does not affect consumer buying behavior, advertising recall,
Open Document