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Implicit Consumer Cognition

Part 3. Consumer Behavior

  1. Patrick T. Vargas,
  2. Sangdo Oh

Published Online: 15 DEC 2010

DOI: 10.1002/9781444316568.wiem03040

Wiley International Encyclopedia of Marketing

Wiley International Encyclopedia of Marketing

How to Cite

Vargas, P. T. and Oh, S. 2010. Implicit Consumer Cognition. Wiley International Encyclopedia of Marketing. 3.

Author Information

  1. University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Champaign, IL, USA

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 15 DEC 2010


Implicit consumer cognition may be defined as the unacknowledged or misidentified influence of prior experience on consumer-related judgment and behavior. Perhaps the most well-known example of implicit consumer cognition is the movie theater experiment in which the messages “eat popcorn” and “drink Coca-Cola” were presented subliminally, and caused moviegoers to increase popcorn and soda consumption. The “experiment” was a complete hoax (never happened), but new evidence suggests that subliminally presented stimuli can subtly influence consumer behavior. In this article, we review research on how consumer behavior can be influenced by cognitive processes outside of conscious awareness. We begin by reviewing research on implicit measures of attitudes, in which attitudes are measured indirectly, generally without consumers' awareness that their attitudes are being measured. Implicit measures of attitudes reliably predict behavior, and seem to tap different aspects of attitudes than traditional, explicit measures. We also review research on subliminal persuasion, automatic cognitive processes that can influence consumer behavior (including implicit memory), and touch briefly on consumer behavior that may occur outside of conscious awareness.


  • implicit cognition;
  • subliminal persuasion;
  • implicit measures