Negative subliminal messages work
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Posted 29 September 2009 - 10:14 AM
People can perceive subliminal messages, particularly if the message is negative, according to a UK study. In three experiments at University College London, participants were briefly shown masked words and asked to classify them as emotional or neutral. The study, published in the journal Emotion, says being able to react to tiny cues helps us to avoid danger and may have useful marketing uses. But critics say there is no evidence this would work outside a laboratory.
Professor Nilli Lavie from University College London showed 50 participants a series of words on a computer screen. Each word appeared on-screen for only a fraction of a second - much too fast for the participants to consciously read the word.
The words were either positive (eg cheerful, flower, peace), negative (eg agony, despair, murder) or neutral (eg box, ear, kettle). After each word, the participants had to choose whether the word was neutral or emotional (positive or negative) and how confident they were of their decision.
The researchers found that the participants answered most accurately when responding to negative words, even when they believed they were merely guessing the answer.
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