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Subliminal Perception

  1. Stanley Coren

Published Online: 30 JAN 2010

DOI: 10.1002/9780470479216.corpsy0960

Corsini Encyclopedia of Psychology

Corsini Encyclopedia of Psychology

How to Cite

Coren, S. 2010. Subliminal Perception. Corsini Encyclopedia of Psychology. 1–2.

Author Information

  1. University of British Columbia, Canada

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 30 JAN 2010


Around the end of the 1950s, a great deal of public concern was expressed when it was claimed that a method existed for presenting advertising messages that could influence behavior at an unconscious level. A typical example used at that time was at a movie theater, where the message “BUY POPCORN” might be given during the film, and even though viewers were not consciously aware of its presence, they would still be motivated to purchase popcorn. The procedures involved quickly flashing messages on the screen at a size, speed, or brightness that was too insignificant to produce conscious awareness. Such stimuli are called subliminal, from the Latin for “below” (sub) the threshold for “consciousness” (limen). Subliminal perception comes about when such stimuli, even though apparently unnoticed, appear to exert an effect on later behavior.


  • subliminal perception;
  • advertising;
  • emotion;
  • persuasion