Information that is processed in the subconscious part of the brain – also known as subliminal messages – can actually influence a person’s attitude and behavior. This finding was revealed in a recent study conducted about the subject. The results also suggests that some subliminal messages may produce effects that are opposite than expected. For instance, subliminal exposure to the image of a flag tones down instead of intensifying political attitudes.
Researchers from the Psychology Department of the Hebrew University in Jerusalem state that the studies they have conducted indicate that subliminal messages indeed have a large influence on attitudes and political behavior. This finding was a significant addition to what is already known about the outcomes of subconscious processes.
The studies, spearheaded by Dr. Ran Hassin – a cognitive scientist, reveal that the subliminal image of the national symbol affected not only the political attitudes of the citizens, but also the voting intents and actual casting of votes in the general elections.
In the article entitled “Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences”, which was published in the U.S. Journal, Hassin’s team gave a detailed account about a set of experimentations that analyzed the consequences of the subliminal presentation of their national flag. The research involved more than 300 participants recruited from Hebrew University’s Mount Scopus campus.
In the initial trial, the Israeli participants were randomly split up into two groups. They were questioned about their thoughts and feelings regarding the main issues of the Israeli-Palestinian dispute. Before responding to the queries, half of the participants were exposed to subconscious images of the national flag flashed on a screen and the other half was not. Based on the results, the exposed group had a propensity to veer to the political core.
A brief exposure to the image of Israel’s flag – so fleeting that people did not even have time to take it in – was enough to cause people to embrace more modest views. Another experiment, carried out weeks before the Israelis pulled out from Gaza, produced the same results and displayed centrist views with respect to the retraction and the presence of Jewish settlers in Gaza and the West Bank.
The third experiment, conducted just before the country’s most recent general elections, demonstrated the same results. The subliminal image of Israel’s national symbol – the flag – attracted left wing, as well as right wing, Israelis to the political hub. Significantly, the participants who were subconsciously exposed to the national flag stated that they meant to opt for more predominant parties than those who were not intentionally exposed to the subliminal image.
The research proponents then summoned the participants after the general elections and discovered that the subliminally exposed group actually voted more moderately. The subliminal exposure to the national flag demonstrated what appears to be an astonishing effect that is yet to be probed and analayzed.
According to Dr. Hassin, the outcomes were interesting for two basic reasons. First, the results provided reliable empirical proof for the non-conscious means in which national ideas ingeniously affect a person’s behaviors and thoughts. Dr. Hassin’s research team is now expanding the study to investigate what other dogmas can do so, as well as the ways they are expressed.
Secondly, the outcomes considerably extend the experimental knowledge with regard to the nature of the subconscious processes, as well as the influences of subliminal message. At present, Dr. Hassin and his team are exploring the psychological mechanisms that cause this phenomenon.