People often accuse advertising firms of using subliminal messaging to persuade customers to unconsciously associate a product with a pleasurable experience or activity, such as intercourse. The above advertisement is considered a "classic" subliminal message. At first the ad seems to be nothing more than a traditional drawing of a woman and an ambiguous slogan. However, if the image is flipped upside down, one can see the image of a woman masturbating.
It is believed that this ad creates a strong desire to choose this flooring company because, unknowingly, the viewer associates the company with sex. Most people claim this advertisement strategy uses subliminal messaging to persuade people without their knowledge. This extraordinary claim, which would surely have huge affects on society, must be supported by extraordinary evidence. However, the extensive evidence that exists proves this claim to be wrong.
Subliminal perception is the processing of sensory information that occurs below the limen, the threshold of conscious awareness. This is done by flashing an image very quickly and then following it with a mask to block mental processing of the image. Evidence has proven that subliminal perception can affect a subject's thoughts, behaviors, and emotions. However, studies of subliminal persuasion, using subliminal perception to influence one's choices (also known as subliminal messaging,) show that subliminal perception has very little power to persuade a person's decision. This is because even though the brain identifies the subliminal message, it does not participate in much, if any, processing of what that stimulus means. As a result, subliminal persuasion cannot produce large-scale, enduring changes in attitudes or decisions (Lilienfeld, Lynn, Namy, & Woolf, 2011).
Furthermore, by definition, a still image advertisement cannot contain subliminal messages, as the stimuli can be consciously acknowledged. The ineffective results of subliminal persuasion and the fact that still images cannot contain subliminal stimuli show that these suggestive advertisements, such as those below, do not affect buyers' decisions. So, even though these advertisements may be considered inappropriate, they cannot be considered subliminal messages and do not affect consumers.
subliminal messageS EXhibit