How to Detect Subliminal Messages


The use of subliminal messages in experiments and therapies has been practiced since the 1860s. Later, it was employed in advertising. Although most people are unaware of the use and effectiveness of these messages and may even consider the suggestion of their use to be in the realm of "science fiction" or "fantasy," some researchers have dedicated years to the study of these methods to "secretly" influence human thought processes and therefore behavior. Detecting and decoding these subliminal messages is best begun by studying print ads for hidden images or perceptual ambiguities that are imperceptible without focused concentration.

Things You'll Need

  • Print ads from magazines or online for tobacco or alcohol products (especially ones containing ice cubes)
  • Print ads from magazines or online for fast foods
  • Print ads from magazines or online for exercise or weight-loss products
  • Magnifying glass

Tips & Warnings

  • Learning to detect and decipher subliminal messages takes practice and deliberate study of the elements in an ad to determine what lies below the surface. Developing the awareness that an advertisement in any media form is often a sophisticated attempt to convince the viewer to buy or use a particular product may also help to explain why a person is especially drawn to one product over another.
  • After seeing how advertising uses subliminal messages to encourage destructive behavior, one may believe that all subliminal messages are bad or even evil. The student of subliminal messages should realize that their use may also be employed to encourage positive behaviors through the use of subliminal positive affirmations and self-hypnosis. The use of subliminal messages in this manner may actually correct destructive behaviors, create a positive self-image, and reinforce constructive behaviors.

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  • Photo Credit cigarette image by Leonid Nyshko from vodka with green cherry and ice cubes image by Monika Olszewska from sexual choc-ice image by AGphotographer from couple working out image by Mat Hayward from
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