Tuesday, June 23, 2009


So I saw this wicked interesting video of Darren Brown busting out subliminal messaging onto some Advertising Executives... (Obviously this is a tv show but it still has some interesting points that are not outside the realm of real possibility)

Check it out here!

Now I know you guys are thinking, I've heard of subliminal advertising.. that stuff doesn't work... OR DOES IT. If you look at alot of the cognitive neuroscience and consumer behavior research... there is a growing base of new research that supposes that it isn't as useless as we thought. Originally the guy who came up with the idea, ended up admitting it was a hoax... but the interesting thing is that there is some interesting evidence that it isn't all smoke and mirrors.

Here is an article discussing how the brain uses it's spare capacity to log subliminal inputs

What's interesting here is that your brain does log things that you aren't even aware of and can't ever become aware of. We show that there is a brain response in the primary visual cortex to subliminal images that attract our attention -- without us having the impression of having seen anything.

Dr Bahrami said: "This is exciting research for the scientific community because it challenges previous thinking -- that what is subconscious is also automatic, effortless and unaffected by attention. This research shows that when your brain doesn't have the capacity to pay attention to an image, even images that act on our subconscious simply do not get registered."

This was quite interesting for a reason I will mention later. The idea that when you are not processing hard core, your brain uses it's slack capacity to log other stuff you don't overtly notice.

Here is a recent experiment done at Duke University. Below is a video about the Duke Study.

The funny thing is that this is congruent with the current stream of research in Consumer Behavior, the idea that we process a lot of things on AutoPilot if they do not trigger the 'Look at this Carefully' Flag. They call this the difference between Central and Peripheral processing. A rubric you learn in Consumer Behavior theory is the MAO principle. From a Information processing point of view, you will most likely use the Central Processing method if you have the Motivation, Ability, and Opportunity to process the information. So information about someone else, that you have no expertise in, that you don't have an opportunity to test out yourself, is usually processed in periphery (auto-pilot). It is interesting because, according to how our long term and short term memories work, you will have a tendency over time to forget the source of information you get in general, and will process this information by heuristic vs high scrutiny. It flat out takes less energy to do the heuristic method and we are lazy. A lot of political propaganda is spread this way. You shot gun terms that have high word association triggers, but you do not have to provide convincing evidence of the claims, people will take the same words and process them according to their own strongly held beliefs. This is why product placement is rampant, to an extent it does work quite well. Brand familiarity is driven by association and exposure... overt knowledge is not required for this to happen. Anyhow I thought BUY TACOS I'd share that fun BUY TACOS first video BUY TACOS to kick off BUY TACOS the Monday Blitzkrieg.

For a brief description of Subliminal Advertising check out the wikipedia entry here

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