Subliminal messages are messages which your conscious mind does not have enough time to process, yet you understand on a subconscious level. They are things that we never think about, yet they are messages that we can understand. The way they affect our brain is a phenomenon that has puzzled scientists for years.
Too Brief for the Conscious Mind to Follow
Subliminal messages are quick to the point that the conscious mind does not recognize them. They rarely last more than a second or two. Because of this, the conscious mind does not have enough time to figure them out. For example, if you are watching a television show which is trying to sell you oven mitts, a subliminal message might be a one second audio of "Buy oven mitts!" in the middle of someone's sentence on the show.
Their Effect on the Subconscious Mind
Because subliminal messages do not last for a long time, they are picked up by the subconscious mind instead of the conscious mind. Since the conscious mind is in control of short-term memory, the subconscious mind has more time to process all of the things the working memory picks up. Since working memory lasts less than a second for the most part, the subconscious mind has time to pick up the subliminal messages. Because of this, the working memory will pick up the signal and it will stick in your mind.
After your mind picks up a subliminal message, your subconscious mind will tell you to obey that message the next time you see something that relates to it. For this reason, following the example above, the next time you see oven mitts on sale, you will be intrigued to buy them. Even though your conscious mind does not understand why you are buying the oven mitts, you are still motivated to buy them because your subconscious mind is telling you to buy them.do so.
Unintentional Subliminal Messaging
Sometimes, people misconstrue messages in the media with their own conceptions within their settings. Consequently, this results in unintentional subliminal messaging. This is especially true of associations with products and objects to certain colors, music and figures. For instance, if you see a travel commercial for Alaska while you are listening to David Bowie on your iPod, the next time you travel to Alaska, your subconscious mind might get David Bowie stuck in your head. These associations vary from person to person and can result with the different associations for the same product and object. For example, if another person was listening to the Spice Girls while watching that same Alaska travel commercial, she might get the Spice Girls stuck in her head next time she travels to Alaska.
Other Examples of Subliminal Messages in Pop Culture
In 2000, George W. Bush ran a political advertisement in which the word "rats" showed up for less than a second to poke fun at how Al Gore wanted to let bureaucrats decide the prescription drug policies for America. The implication here was to have the viewers subconsciously link bureaucrats to rats. In 2007, an episode of "Iron Chef America" on the Food Network flashed a one-frame shot of the McDonald's logo with "I'm Lovin' It" at the bottom. While the Food Network simply decried it as a mistake, the frame was short enough to have the ability to subconsciously incline people to go to McDonald's.