Tuesday, July 31, 2007

You’re More Easily Manipulated Than You Think

Subliminal triggers may have more of an influence on you than you think, according to a new feature at the New York Times. What’s a subliminal trigger? It could be something as simple as a briefcase. In a 2004 University of Waterloo study, researchers found that contestants in an investment game were more competitive if a briefcase was sitting in the room.

In another study, researchers observed a greater likelihood of study participants cleaning up after a snack if “citrus-scented cleaning fluid” was hidden in the room.

And here’s a strange one. In a Yale study, test subjects were intercepted on their way to the lab and asked to hold a cup of coffee. In some cases the coffee was iced, in others the coffee was hot. But in all cases, the subjects had no idea they were holding the coffee of a lab assistant. Later, the subjects were asked to rate a hypothetical person described in a text. As it turns out, the subjects that held the cold cups of coffee were more likely to rate the person as “colder,” “less social,” and “more selfish” than subjects that held the hot coffee.

Strange, yes?

As it turns out, these subliminal triggers are very powerful. One expert told the times, “once covertly activated, an unconscious goal persists with the same determination that is evident in our conscious pursuits.” This is probably because, “the brain appears to use the very same neural circuits to execute an unconscious act as it does a conscious one.”

But before you go out and try to trick yourself into certain behaviors with subliminal triggers, know this. “Using subtle cues for self-improvement is something like trying to tickle yourself.” According to an expert, “priming doesn’t work if you’re aware of it.”

But what if you enlist the help of a very clever friend?


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Pound360 Archive

About Me

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I started pound360 to channel my obsession with vitamins, running and the five senses. Eventually, I got bored focusing on all that stuff, so I came back from a one month hiatus in May of 2007 (one year after launching Pound360) and broadened my mumblings here to include all science.