Interesting Study on Subliminal Messaging in Media

This article, Dirty Rats, was written by S. Perkins who’s attempting to explain the effect of the 2000 Republican presidential commercial. The controversy is that during an advertisement the words RATS filled the screen lasting one-thirteenths of a second. Republicans were accused by Democrats that they planted a subliminal message in their commercial and to test if the image had affected their decision on who to vote for Joel Weinberger, a psychologist at Adelphi University in New York conducted an experiment. His hypothesis that he wanted to test was if subliminal negative impressions on a candidate will really affect your decision on who to vote for. His samples were random people, men and women, that visited an internet site and the population concluded to be 250 people who took part in the study. A picture of a candidate was shown and the sample was to rate the contender on a 10 statement but before the picture was shown one of the four words were flashed, STAR, RATS, XXXX or ARAB. Those who viewed the XXXX were the control group, the word ARAB was to test if those who filled out the questionnaire had negative stereotypes and they chose STAR because it spelled RATS backward meaning it may have positive effects. How an individual judged the candidate on the statement after viewed the image is the dependent variable and which word is shown is the independent variable. The conclusion was that those who chose direct answers such as, I like this candidate, weren’t affected by the subliminal messages but when phrasing the statement in a negative manner those who viewed RATS judged more harshly than those who saw the other three words. His results state that negative impressions of candidates will be affected by subliminal messages than positive ones. Criticisms of the study include that the sample didn’t link STAR as a positive characteristic, and the variety of wording of the ten statements.

Study can be found at: