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Subliminal perception and persuasion Analytical Essay

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Updated: May 22nd, 2018

Subliminal perception and persuasion are associated with the notion of mind control. Mind control entails controlling individuals without their knowledge. They involve making a person or a group of people do stuff that they would not have done.

If a stimulus presents itself below the level that can make an individual aware of it, but is able to influence his judgment and action, then subliminal perception has taken place. ‘Subliminal perception’ was initially used to depict circumstances that weak stimuli were experienced without knowledge.

In the recent past, the term subliminal perception has been used to signify circumstances involving the perception of unnoticed stimuli. Subliminal persuasion on the other hand involves making people change their thoughts and principles with an aim of spreading it to others. It entails making people accept and acknowledge fresh information as the correct one.

Lakhani (2008) noted that, “In the 1950s, James Vicary, an advertising expert, had secretly flashed. at a third of a millisecond, the words “Eat Popcorn” and “Drink Coke” onto the movie screen. His studies, lasting six weeks, involved thousands of movie-going subjects who received a subliminal message every five seconds during the film. Vicary claimed an increase in Coke sales of l8 percent and a rise in popcorn sales of almost 58 percent.” (p. 56).

This is subliminal persuasion. Even though his conclusions were not documented as true, this gave rise to a lot of speculation on how the mind can be controlled by media. People became scared by the thought that politicians may use this new discovery for their own political reasons. The Federal communications commission at that time investigated the same and issued a warning to broadcasting stations not to use this method of advertising.

Subliminal persuasion is more psychological and is focused on reasons why the use of subliminal messages work, unlike subliminal perception that is physical. Subliminal perception focus on how, in a physical sense, subliminal messages work. It entails how the body physically senses sound, smell, touch, vision and taste.

It is real and evidence can be collected for or against it. Subliminal persuasion is about the mind. It is about things that are difficult to prove physically, but can be speculated on psychologically (Long, 2000).

Subliminal persuasion is an important study in the world today. People who have mastered the art of persuasion can use it in a number of ways. Persuading people to a acquire thoughts that they initially did not have is being used in the world today. Advertising agencies and the media use this skill to convince the mass about using their products.

Before these people (advertising agencies and media) embark on the task at hand, they do a lot of ground work on the target audience. They consider the target audience’s beliefs, financial status, age etc to create a public profile. These findings are then used to determine the kind of advertising that will be employed and the content itself (Lakhani, 2008).

Subliminal perception is used in sports (especially in athletics) by trainers. Other than their physical training, athletes are often taken through psychological sessions in which their attitude towards winning is influenced. In these sessions, each athlete is convinced that he is the best that there is. They therefore go to the field with a positive attitude. An individual who believes that he is the best at something will always give his best at it.


Lakhani, D. (2008). Subliminal Persuasion: Influence and Marketing Secrets They Don’t Want You to Know. New Jersey: Wiley Publishers.

Long, M. (2000). Psychology of Education. London: Routledge.

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