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149 11 Subliminal Persuasion: Psychological and Juristic History and Current State of Affairs Christina Bermeitinger, University of Hildesheim, Germany Benjamin Unger, Hildesheim, Germany With the topic of subliminal perception and persuasion we enter a domain which is interesting for researchers and users from many different disciplines (and for different reasons), for example, for philosophy, psychology and neuroscience, for psychotherapy and coaching, but also for informatics, military, marketing, and also movie makers, to highlight just a few. And subliminal persuasion is a fascinating issue for a lot of people also –or perhaps especially –outside the scientific context. In our text, we will describe early research on subliminal perception and how it initiated current research. Then we will give an overview on subliminal persuasion in advertising and (political) campaigns. Here, a milestone of the debate represents the well known story of the marketing expert James Vicary (“Drink Coca Cola”, “Eat Popcorn”. In the third part, an international comparison on the juristic basis for subliminal persuasion is given. In the fourth part, we will show serious experimental research on subliminal persuasion in different fields of psychology (e.g., priming experiments, choice behavior). Eventually, we will discuss what consequences these results will have and we will give a deliberative evaluation whether the (juristic) regulations are adequate or not. Subliminal Perception In psychology, subliminal perception (i.e., below the threshold of consciousness) represents one of the first research
Psychology and the Search for Certainty in Everyday Life 150 fields of experimental psychology coming directly from psychophysics. For example, Sidis reported 1898 a series of studies where he presented cards with either letters or numbers. The subjects were put at such a distance that the character was outside their range of vision. Each time a card was shown, subjects were requested to name the particular character. Sidis wrote in his report that “the subjects often complained that they could not see anything at all; that even the black, blurred, dim spot often disappeared from their field of vision; […] that they might as well shut their eyes and guess” (Sidis, 1898, p. 171).