Can advertisers really use subliminal messaging to control our behaviors? What about those flashing messages within videos used to manipulate us?
I recently wrote a short story for a competition that had to include a paranormal element. I’m not so much into creepy phantoms and evil sorcery. So, I started lightly researching phenomenon that could be perceived as paranormal for my short story. In that exploration, I hit on the concept of subliminal messaging (we can’t see or hear it, even if we are looking for it). Hysteria started because James Vicary, in the 1950s, claimed to boost concession sales at a movie theater by flashing “Eat Popcorn” and “Drink Coke” during a movie. But his claim was a hoax. Despite his confession, people were convinced. Mind control by advertisers became a real concern.
Long story, with lots of research, made short: Subliminal or supraliminal (we can see it or hear it, even if we don’t consciously notice it) can’t dictate our behavior but if we have a need, it may influence our decision making. This is how mind-reading magicians get us to think of certain numbers or words. For example, by conversing with a participant before the set-up and using words such as bark, best friend, pat, stay – it’s no surprise that the person is thinking about a dog. Supraliminal influencing was illustrated when researchers (North, Hargreaves, & McKendrick, 1999) played music in a grocery store. German music on some days, French on others. The influence on wine sales? You guessed it. Purchasing trends between the varietals followed the music. Keeping this in mind next time I need to inspire myself to get the work done. Sing it Dolly. Speak it Solomon in Proverbs 14:23.
Do you have music or messaging that influences you? Please comment below.
So, what about my short story with a paranormal element? Did I mention it was a romance? I let my mind wander. What if our mind created their own influencing messages? I wrote Glimpse of Lace. I recently found out it is a finalist for the Cascade Awards, winner announced in August, and it won first place in The Erdel Family Memorial Award 2021 for short stories. So excited. Shocked, actually.
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