Research Review:The History of Subliminal Perception

Subliminal messaging in advertising and other forms of mediums has been a topic of concern for a very long time. Research of subliminal messaging can date back to the 1920’s. There is no official scientific proof that this form of messaging and persuasion is necessarily real, but it has shown some real effects. Subliminal messaging is a series of mind control techniques based on the belief that it can persuade people to do things they would not normally do. This has been around since the 5th century B.C when the early Greeks used the rhetoric as a way to influence people.

In the 1920’s when BBC tried to launch on the radio people did not react well. Radio audiences felt that it was the voice of the devil speaking to them so BBC then turned to subliminal messaging in order to gain the interest of the public. BBC added “this is not a noose, no really its not,”  in a jingle which can be heard when played backwards otherwise called “backward masking” which is a form of subliminal messaging.

In 1957 there was great concern about the use of subliminal messaging in movies. James Vicary flashes the phrases “Drink Coca-Cola” and “Eat popcorn” 1/2000 of a second in a movie and this led to a 35% increase in the sale of popcorn and Coca-Cola. Disney has been said to have used subliminal messaging in their films as well for example a scene in the very popular “Lion King” when Simba lays down and the pollen blows off into the wind forming the word “sex” if you look closely. That is not the only instance in which Disney has been accused of subliminal messaging. It can also be found in movies such as “The Little Mermaid”, “Aladdin” and “Beauty and the Beast”. Perhaps these messages were added to draw the attention of an older crowd as well as a younger crowd? It is an interesting question but one we will probably never get answered.

The most interesting point touched is the use to subliminal messaging in the government. This is also by far the most concerning, being that they basically control the way our life goes in some way or another. In 1974 the FCC (Federal Communications Commission) received many complaints that a TV station was using subliminal messaging by which the FCC responded stating “…Whether effective or not, such broadcasts clearly are intended to be deceptive”. Clearly taking a stance against subliminal messaging.

Subliminal messaging is something that could possibly be easily gotten away with if used smartly, and can be potentially very dangerous based on how it is used. The author of this article did a great job of presenting their ideas along with being completely unbiased. The information was presented very clearly, touching how subliminal messaging has been used in various forms of mediums, as well as its effect on the public and its consumers.




Work Cited:

Dixon, Norman F. Subliminal Perception. New York: New American Public Library, 1981.

How Advertisers Promote Addiction. Michael Christian (a.k.a. William Cane). 1996. 20 November 2001.

Key, Wilson Bryan. The Age of Manipulation. Maryland: Madison Books, 1993.

Key, Wilson Bryan. Media Sexploitation. New Jersey: Prentice Hall, 1976.

Packard, Vance. The Hidden Persuaders. New York: D. McKay Co., 1957.

The Public and Broadcasting. FCC record : a comprehensive compilation of decisions, reports, public notices and other documents of the Federal Communications Commission of the United States (v. 16 no. 18 2001). Washington, DC: FCC.

Subliminal Messages and Backmasking. 2001. 18 November 2001.

Subliminal Perception. 2000. 18 November 2001.

Subliminal World. Jim Hagart. 15 October 2001. 20 November 2001.

“Subliminal Perception: History.” Subliminal Perception: History. N.p., n.d. Web. 24 Mar. 2014.


One thought on “Research Review:The History of Subliminal Perception

  1. Nice overview, Danielle. In the future, all you need to do is give me the Works Cited entry for the article you read. You don’t have to copy their entire works cited page. That’s a lot of work! Although, you can definitely look at their sources and see if there’s anything they used that you might want to find to help you with your own research.

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