Scientists have proved that flashing images so fast in a way people do not perceive it impacts on the brain at unconscious level, that could be revealed at the conscious one. The subliminal messages inserted by James Vicary in cinemas in 1957, aiming to increase sodas and popcorn sales has in fact been denied by the author himself later : Vicary has fabricated the results.
However, 50 years after, British scientists have demonstrated that messages can leave mark on the brain, and particularly negative messages.To prove this idea, scientists have showed to fifty participants a series of words on a computer screen. Words were flashing one by one and people could not consciously read it. It could be positive, negative or neutral word.After each word, participants were asked to choose whether the word was neutral or “emotional” (i.e. positive or negative), and how confident they were of their decision. What is really surprising in this study is that people answered most accurately when responding to negative words – even when they believed they were merely guessing the answer.
Professor Lavie, who participates to this study, believes the research may have implications for the use of subliminal marketing to convey messages such as in advertising or public relations.