Subliminal messaging is most effective when the message being conveyed is negative, according to new research funded by the Wellcome Trust.
Subliminal images – in other words, images shown so briefly that the viewer does not consciously ‘see’ them – have long been the subject of controversy, particularly in the area of advertising. Previous studies have already hinted that people can unconsciously pick up on subliminal information intended to provoke an emotional response, but limitations in the design of the studies have meant that the conclusions were ambiguous.
Today, the journal Emotion publishes a study by a UCL team led by Professor Nilli Lavie, which provides evidence that people are able to process emotional information from subliminal images and demonstrates conclusively that even under such conditions, information of negative value is better detected than information of positive value.
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