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9. Remembering: Hacks 81–92 > 82. Subliminal Messages Are Weak and Simple

Subliminal Messages Are Weak and Simple

Subliminal perception sneaks underneath the level of consciousness and can influence your preferences—but only a little.

Being exposed to a photograph for two-hundredth of a second can’t really be called seeing, because you won’t even be consciously aware of it. But having a photo flashed at you like this works it into your subliminal perception and means that next time you see it you’ll—very slightly, mind—prefer it to one you’ve never been exposed to before.

In Action

Proving that mere exposure can change your preferences isn’t easy to do at home, so it’s best to look at the experiments. Robert Bornstein and Paul D’Agostino exposed a group of volunteers to images, either photographs or unfamiliar shapes, and then asked each person to rate the images according to how much he or she liked them. 1


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