The Truth about Subliminal Messages: An Op/Ed

Kya Gooch, Reporter

Contrary to popular belief, subliminal messages cannot be used to persuade consumers to purchase products. “Subliminal” is defined as something that is not easily perceived, but may be remembered due to constant repetition. For example, a subliminal message could be a commercial that you see a few times while watching television, or an ad you constantly hear while listening to the radio. These messages were first developed to use in advertising to increase sales, although we now know that this might not be the case. 

One of the reasons why subliminal messages do not work is simply because everyone’s brain works differently. While one person might be persuaded easily, others may be more stubborn. Because of this, for subliminal messages to work one hundred percent of the time, they would have to be created for each individual person, with the help of research on their brain. This is just not possible, therefore disproving the effectiveness of subliminal messages. 

The effectiveness of subliminal messages has also been disproved by many studies. For example, BBC Radio conducted an experiment where one group would watch a video full of subliminal messages, and another group would watch the same video without the messages. The messages simply said “Lipton” for Lipton tea. After the video, the groups were able to choose either water or Lipton tea. There was no significant difference between the amount of people who chose the tea over the water, meaning the messages were not effective. 

In the 1980’s, it became popular to insert subliminal messages in music- particularly rock songs. People believed that playing songs in reverse would expose the messages that their brain was secretly picking up while listening to the song. Although many swear to hearing strange messages when listening in reverse, many studies have shown that this is all coincidental, or the artists were just adding strange messages to gain more popularity from the fad. But whether the messages are fake or not, there is no way that the brain can pick up on messages that  can only be heard when the song is played in reverse if the song is being normally. 

Overall, there is proof that subliminal messages do not actually work. With the help of many studies, we have learned that in many situations, the subliminal messages do not have any effect on people. While some believe the messages will cause purchases without knowledge, these purchases are simply coincidences.