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Lecture 12

Psychology 1000 Lecture Notes - Lecture 12: Subliminal Stimuli, Absolute Threshold, James Vicary

Course Code
PSYCH 1000
John Campbell

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- Information comes in through senses
- Brains interpret this info
- Look with eyes, see with brain
- Sensation
- Stimulus-detection process
- Organs translate stimuli into nerve impulses
- Perception
- Organizing and giving meaning to input
- Contribution of context
- Occurs automatically
- ABC, 121314
- Nothing about stimulus changed, surrounding images changes context so
letter B looks like number 13
- The stroop effect
- Conflicting information
- “Read the colour of the word” test
- Absolute threshold
- Intensity at which stimulus can be detected 50% of time
- Lower threshold = higher sensitivity
- Inversely related, negative correlation
- Key distinction: absolute threshold measures level at which we can report
sensing a stimuli
- Have to be consciously aware of stimuli to report it
- Once below threshold, can no longer be consciously aware of it
- Advertisers discovered that stimuli above absolute threshold is more powerful
than subliminal messages
- Subliminal perception
- Subliminal stimulus = stimulus so weak that although received by senses, cannot
be consciously perceived
- Stimulus is below threshold
- Subliminal messages
- James Vicary (P.R exec) in late 50s had subliminal messages flash on theatre
screen during movie
- “Drink coca-cola”, “eat popcorn”
- 50% increase in popcorn sales, 18% increase in soft-drink sales
- Outraged public, fear of brainwashing
- National association of broadcasters outlawed subliminal messages on
American TV
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