Do you ever have a craving for something you just saw a commercial for? This is a pretty common occurrence that makes marketers everywhere happy that their ads are influencing you.
The average American is exposed to hundreds, or even thousands of ads a day -- but most of us cannot recall nearly that many -- how is this possible? Many of the advertising, or messaging, we are exposed to is being processed unconsciously. The binding problem, one of the great mysteries of psychology, deals with how our brains manage to combine or "bind" diverse pieces of information into a unified whole. This explains how we use rapid, coordinated activity that crosses multiple cortical areas to help us bind together -- or make sense -- of all this information marketers throw our way through commercials, advertisements, product placements and more.
The Lillenfield text stands by the fact that we process many of the sensory inputs to which we're exposed unconsciously, and that many of our actions occur with little or no forethought or deliberation. But besides processing this information unconsciously, is there any of it that we are being fully exposed to unconsciously without ever detecting?
Subliminal perception, or perception below the threshold of conscious awareness may definitely come into play while processing advertisements. An example of this is the subliminal ad for McDonald's that can be seen in the following youtube video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2xPvYgTvr8I. Although the placement of the Mickey D's logo was indeed a technical error, did it actually subliminally influence those who were exposed to it? Did people actually stop watching Iron Chef to run and get a Big Mac?
The answer? Probably NOT. Subliminal persuasion, or sub-threshold influence over our choices and decisions, but it is probably very unlikely in most cases. This is because we can't engage in much in-depth processing of the meaning of subliminal stimuli. As a result, these brief messages probably cannot produce changes in our attitudes or decisions.
As one of the principles of scientific thinking states -- extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence, and in the case of subliminal messaging the evidence is not as strong as the claim.
Therefore, the next time you're feeling upset about your spending habits - you can't blame it on subliminal advertisements. Even though you're exposed to so many advertisements, ultimately you control your own attitudes and decisions - isn't that comforting?
I still wonder why some companies do engage in subliminal advertising if it has been proven to not really be effective. Have any of you ever caught any subliminal adverting on TV? Do you think it works?
Maybe more Carlson kids need to venture to Elliot Hall to learn about it!
A little insight from a Marketing major in a Psychology class.