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Advertising, Subliminal

The word subliminal comes from two Latin words, sub, meaning “below,” and limen, meaning “threshold.” If something is subliminal, then it is something that is “below the threshold”—here, it is “below the threshold of conscious experience.” Subliminal advertising, then, is advertising that operates below the limits of the consciousness of its audience. Subliminal advertising operates by including text or images in the overt, perceived advertising product that will not themselves be consciously perceived but will appeal to basic and universal human needs, such as food, sex, security, or status. Such advertising messages are sometimes referred to as “hidden” or “embedded” messages.

The potential use of subliminal techniques has been recognized since 1898, with the publication of a book by E. W. Scripture titled The New Psychology. ...

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