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Subliminal messages, also known as the subliminal stimuli, are messages below threshold, or below individual’s conscious perception. The subliminal messages are first introduced in 1895, but they came in the center of attention by the end of 1950’s raising the concerns that marketing experts use these hidden messages to persuade the audience of buying a certain product. However, there is no strong evidence to support this theory, even though some of the researchers found that subliminal message might cause preference for certain products if the effect and message are both goal-relevant. For example, choosing a proper name for a drink may affect a person's choice of drink if it somehow stimulates the person’s feeling of being thirsty. Today, individuals willing to preprogram their minds using certain affirmations often use subliminal messages. For example, an individual may subconsciously affect its own choices by creating subliminal motivation for quitting bad habits, losing weight, studying better, or to induce relaxation. 

Types of subliminal messages

Subliminal messages can be visual or audio. Visual subliminal messages are often incorporated into the small sequences of movies, usually on a single frame. This way, the messages remain invisible but the brain can capture them on a subconscious level. For additional effect, subliminal message can be repeated several times during a single movie, to stimulate expected desire in a subject. Visual subliminal messages are not always presented in a form of motion pictures. Sometimes, these images include simple printed geometric shapes or scenes containing hidden objects. In 2007, scientists discovered that subliminal experience of the Israeli flag had a moderating effect on the political opinions and voting behaviors of Israeli volunteers. Most commonly, the hidden messages are masked in audio form and they are very hard to detect, unless a person uses software to decode a message. Backmasking is the technique used for audio subliminal messages. It includes recording a subliminal message backward onto a track that is meant to be played forward. The most popular example of such a message is a "satanic" theme hidden in "Stairways to Heaven", a song by the famous band Led Zeppelin.

Does it really work?

There is strong evidence that subliminal messaging stimulates prime individual responses and emotional activity. However, the persuasiveness of these messages is still in question. Psychologists agree subliminal messages cannot produce a strong and everlasting effect on behavior. However, subliminal messages can help in various individual self-improvement programs but using them for weight loss, smoking cessation or any other enduring effect on behavior, works as a placebo.

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