The committee for Skeptical Inquiry


After the Vacary’s study in cinema concerning an insertion of a flash image “eat popcorn” or “drink coke”, sells have increased, but it has also alarmed the Federal Communications Solutions. Subliminal advertising has been forbidden in many countries.

The subject has been discussed a long while after and Vacary’s study was doubted. He was asked to replicate his study under scientific observations. No changes in the sales occured. However, the interest in subliminal messages increased and new movement appeared, such as the one of  “New Thought,”. The doctrine of New Thought stated that our mind possesses an unlimited but hidden power that could improve our life. As well, more and more people began to be interested in subliminal messages ( such as medicines, in schools…). And everyone has heard at least one time about subliminal messages. But does it really work? Many studies are constantly led but a recently one is obviously interesting to explain how it could work.
In the early 1990’s, participants were asked to listen a video tape aiming to improve their self-esteem with subliminal messages. After 5 days of daily-listenning, they had to answer some questions and the results proved that there were no changes in their self-esteem. However, most of them claimed they feel their self-esteem improved. In this way, subliminal messages can work as a placebo when known.

We are surrounded everywhere and anytime by messages that tend to influence ouserlve. As the author states, it would better to focus on the real influence that surround us (without being hidden or subliminal images) such as public relations, advertising or propaganda.


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