The Rest of the Story…
In Part 1 of this two-part post I concluded that subliminal messages aren’t what work to influence our behavior; rather, it’s the supraliminal effects. I also promised to give you citations in this Part 2 that would support my Part 1 general overview of self-development recordings.
Nick Kolenda’s experience in using hidden messages within the range of consciousness validates the science that says subliminal messaging does not work. Kolenda is known for his “magic” shows whereby he tricks people into believing he can read their minds. He says he “…never used any subliminal messages in my show. In fact, I was (and still am) very skeptical about the influence of subliminal cues.”
In his Psychology & Marketing website, Kolenda says “Subliminal messages…lie below our threshold of conscious awareness. Because they fall below the absolute threshold level (ATL), we can’t perceive a subliminal message, even if we’re looking for it.” He explains further, “If we can see or hear it — even if we don’t consciously notice it — it’s not subliminal. It’s considered supraliminal.”
Kolenda adds, “Research shows that subliminal messages in self-help tapes are effective. BUT…they’re effective because of the placebo effect (Greenwald, Spangenberg Pratkanis, & Eskanazi 1991). The subliminal cues, themselves, are essentially useless.” Kolenda uses priming, which I explain in more detail below, to create a placebo effect. In short, he primes his audience with verbal cues, then asks them to think of an answer to a question. He invariably knows what their answer will be, based on his priming.
Another source I’d like to give you is an article by Hauke Egermann and Reinhard Kopiezof the Hanover University of Music and Drama and the Institute for Research in Music Education, Germany, and Christoph Reuter of the Institute for Applied Musicology and Psychology, Cologne, Germany. It supports Kolenda’s conclusions, saying that “subliminal cues planted in music had no effect whatsoever.“
There are of course more sources you can google, but to be fair, you have to consider whether the information uses the term “subliminal” in its strict definition. Near the end of this article, you will find my paraphrased examples of cited information that would appear to support subliminal messaging as being effective. Although I believe the purveyors of so-called subliminal recordings have good intentions, I show how those statements fall short of being plausible within the strict meaning of subliminal.
My last post covered effective supraliminal attributes as including binaural beats, isochronic tones, audible messages, seen messages, etc. These are said to be influential regardless of whether or not we notice them.
Priming is a supraliminal effect but is different from the others; while the others can affect the listener passively, priming requires we actively take conscious notice of the affirmations.
As an example of priming, an email I received from Karl Moore, CEO of Brainev and Inspire3 products, suggests I enhance some so-called subliminal recordings by regularly reading the list of the affirmations and listening to the spoken versions prior to listening to the other versions with the same messages in subliminal form. Those versions have the unheard messages buried in music, nature sounds, brown noise, etc. He calls reading or listening to the phrases prior to the subliminal recordings a “conscious prompt,” saying it will strengthen the connections between your conscious and subconscious goals. But does that mean the truly subliminal messages will seep into your subconscious mind just because you gave yourself a conscious prompt?
It stands to reason that if scientific research has proven that subliminal messages don’t work, it must be the other supraliminal effects, including priming, that makes a such a so-called subliminal recording work.
That said, I find Karl Moore’s products supraliminal-rich, and some of his products omit subliminal messaging altogether. I have to wonder if Moore keeps his subliminal message (pun intended) alive as a priming (pun again) tool for those who still believe in subliminals; perhaps he wants to capture that large portion of his industry’s market along with his more knowledgeable customers.
Aspects of Some Spoken Versions
Versions spoken above ATL sometimes include supraliminal, albeit esoteric, word manipulations such as the whisper method, reverse speech, stereo confusion and lightening-technology. Again, these may or may not be effective depending on whether the messages reach the listeners’s conscious ATL, noticed or not.
As examples of how we might be influenced by such methods, let’s take a look at the spoken version that comes with Inspire3’s “subliminal” products. Each spoken version starts out with clear, concise phrases. After a while, the phrases begin to meld and flow from ear to ear. Maybe after a while it becomes kind of a jumble, but in your mind you seem to make up for whatever may be somewhat incomprehensible. Perhaps this would be like hearing a familiar melody without lyrics, so you sing the lyrics to yourself in your head, or even aloud. That would seem to move what might otherwise be regarded as incomprehensible, or below the conscious ATL, into the category of supraliminal.
We can see there are many ways to reach our subconscious mind with messages we want to believe and live in accordance with. If we are on the self-development track, we are open-minded and want to consider various ways to change our limiting beliefs to empowering ones. My next blog, “Why Should We Want to Change Our Subconscious Beliefs?” makes it clear that it is our subconscious mind that rules the day; ergo, we want it to contain messages that empower us. The catch is that our subconscious mind garners its beliefs from conscious experiences and conscious thought, which often rely, erroneously, on our fears.1
Our fears are rooted in our survival mechanism, and have us primarily (80% of the time on average)2 believing in and expecting the worst, which is what really limits us from our successful breakthroughs. That blog will delve into why we have this negative propensity that causes us to rely on fears that are outdated, to the point that we sabotage our postive expansion. I include in my next post important science that proves how to overcome this self-sabotage and create the life you really want.
Semantics of Citations
Many authoritative studies supporting the efficacy of subliminals are paraphrased in the advertising of subliminal recordings without using the term subliminal in its strict sense. (Could those be considered supraliminal priming messages, working as a placebo effect?) Below I have paraphrased a few examples you might run across that could have you believing subliminal messages do work. Each of my examples is followed by my comments. I believe paraphrased statements like these are given with good intentions, and occur simply because subliminal and supraliminal effects are not differentiated.
1. “Subliminal messages are given outside awareness, where your conscious mind won’t distract your subconscious from receiving the message.”
a) This type of statement incorrectly assumes that because subliminal messages are presented outside the listener’s awareness, they can or do influence the subconscious. When taken in the strict meaning of subliminal, “outside awareness” in this statement makes the statement false.
b) If we replace the term “subliminal” with “supraliminal,” the second half of the statement is moot. That’s because another qualifier of an unnoticed or somewhat hidden supraliminal message is that it must resonate with the intentions of the conscious person to have an influence on their actions. If it doesn’t resonate, the subconscious will obviously ignore it. (My next post tells you how to get your subconscious to stop ignoring new messages that you really do want it to accept.)
2. “Subliminal messages must be presented in an appropriate manner to be effective.”
a) What is the appropriate manner that could make a subliminal message effective? None, according to scientific research. Therefore, any statement similar to this cannot be made within the strict definition of subliminal.
b) From the premise that effectiveness of the message (noticed or not) requires it be presented above the conscious ATL, a general statement about the “appropriate manner” of presenting a truly subliminal message doesn’t stand. However, such a statement about a supraliminal message is definitely plausible.
3. “Studies of preconscious processing indicate that subliminal messaging works.”
a) This is a clear mis-use of the term “subliminal” in its strict sense. That’s because preconscious processing first requires conscious processing (above ATL), and then the storing of what was processed into memory.
b) Here’s an excerpt from a blog by Kendra Cherry, posted June 16, 2016, and the link to its psychology site, Verywell, that sums up preconscious processing…ahem… very well:
“The preconscious mind is a part of the mind that corresponds to ordinary memory. These memories are not conscious, but we can retrieve them to conscious awareness at any time.”
Cherry is referring here to memories that you are not immediately aware of, like the topic of a conversation earlier today, or the name of a movie saw last night. When you are asked or triggered to recall these things, you’ll pull them out of your preconscious.
Cherry adds, “…the preconscious…acts as a sort of gatekeeper between the conscious and unconscious parts of the mind. It allows only certain pieces of information to pass through and enter conscious awareness.”
In other words, the information has to pass from the conscious mind to be stored in the preconscious, where it can later be retrieved by the conscious.
There are studies on so-called subliminal recordings that do show improved academic standards, weight control and stopping smoking. But I have to question whether the recordings really just subliminal? Or were priming and other supraliminal effects involved?
What I’m pointing out here is that we have an industry-wide problem of so-called subliminal effects getting credit for supraliminal effects. We also have marketing that may be based on popular assumptions. Politicians take polls to figure out what to say to influence people. Marketers take surveys or look at data to figure out how to capture more market share than their competitors, and do what they gotta do.
The Benefits are in the Beholder
In conclusion, while subliminal messages are not effective, supraliminal messages are effective if they:
- make contact with our conscious mind, whether or not we are aware of it;
- are logical to our conscious thinking; and
- match our intentions.
However, the second point, that it must be logical to our conscious thinking, has an inherent Catch-22. That’s because the conscious mind processes information based on subconscious beliefs.
We have to use our conscious mind to change the subconscious beliefs that cause us to sabotage our progress in life. Only then can we take action that brings different results.
Be sure to read my next blog that clearly explains this Catch-22, and provides a proven way to reach our subconscious mind with new, empowering conscious messages!
I buy BrainEv and Inspire3 products because I understand how they work to influence the subconscious mind. I will cover other products for you over time. The important message here is that once our subconscious beliefs are changed to what we consciously want, we are able to take conscious actions in accordance with what we want; and that’s how we create the outcomes we really want!
If you are interested in the pros and cons of some products that have valuable features and benefits to help your subconscious mind lean more positively, Click Here to Visit My Product Reviews Page.
Wishing you the life you really want,
Newberg, A. B., & Waldman, M. R. (2012). Words can change your brain: 12 conversation strategies to build trust, resolve conflict, and increase intimacy. New York: Hudson Street Press.
- Ph.D., B. M. (2013, May 7). Shyness Is Nice. Stop Fighting Your Negative Thoughts. Retrieved May 19, 2014, from http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/shyness-is- nice/201305/stop-fighting-your-negative-thoughts