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Subliminal Perception & Extra Sensory Perception

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Subliminal Perception & Extra Sensory Perception

Subliminal Perception is the ability to notice stimuli that affect only the unconscious mind. This concept used subliminal messages, which are brief auditory or visual messages presented below the absolute threshold so that there is less than 50 percent chance that they will be perceived.

In a state-of-the-art technology, subliminal perception is done by continually flashing a message through computerized digital words on a screen at a very fast speed. The repeated flashing stimulates the potential or prospective buyers to unconsciously absorb the message. If the message in a TV advertisement during commercial break, is to eat pizza pie at Pizza Hut, generally consumers whenever feel hungry they tend to go to Pizza Hut and order pizza pie. On the other hand, supraliminal perception is the perception of stimuli that are above level of consciousness or awareness. Experiences that can be evoked by sensory receptors are strong enough to perceive and remember.

Extrasensory Perception is the perception of objects or events through means other than sensory organs. Eyes, ears, mouth, nose and skin are sense organs used for personal experience to the external world. Bem and Honorton presented “psi”, as unusual processes of information or energy transfer that are currently unexplained in terms of known physical or biological mechanisms. ESP experiences are described below:

1. Telepathy – It is a direct communication from one mind to another without the usual visual, auditory and other sensory signals.

2. Clairvoyance – A perception of an event or fact without normal sensory input.

3. Precognition - The perception of an event that has not yet happened.

4. Out-of-body experience – Experiences involving the perception of one’s own body from outside, as another observer might see it.

5. Psychokinesis – A mental power to manipulate, move or lift objects. 1

1. Apruebo, Roxel A. C.CI.P., R.L.G.C., General Psychology, Central Books Supply Inc., 2013, pp. 151-153

Subliminal Perception is the receipt of messages that are below one’s absolute threshold for conscious awareness. Subliminal messages can have a momentary, subtle effect on thinking. Such stimuli can evoke a feeling, though not a conscious awareness of the stimulus. When you are just barely aware of a change in stimulus, such as an increase of volume of a CD or brightness on your computer screen, the difference threshold-the minimum difference between any two stimuli that a person can detect 50% of a time has been reached. In order to survive, organisms must have difference thresholds low enough to detect minute changes in important stimuli.

Extrasensory Perception is studied by parapsychologists for psychological phenomena that are currently inexplicable by science. They try to answer the question “Is there perception without sensation?” ESP (extrasensory perception) is the controversial claim that perception can occur apart from sensory input. Parapsychology, the study of paranormal events, investigates ESP including:

- Telepathy: mind-to-mind communication.

- Clairvoyance: perception of remote events.

- Precognition: perception of future events.

- Telekinesis or psychokinesis: moving remote objects through mental processes. 2

The term subliminal perception refers to the behavioral effect of a stimulus that fails below the threshold of conscious detection. That is, although the person denies having detected a stimulus, the stimulus has a measurable effect on their behavior. But the effects are subtle, and special procedures are required to demonstrate them. For example, if the word “nurse” is the first flashed on the screen, it becomes easier for the viewer to recognize a related word, such as “doctor”, but not an unrelated word, such as ’chair’ . This phenomenon, called semantic priming, occurs even when the priming stimulus (‘nurse’) is presented so rapidly that the subjects deny having seen it, meaning that it can occur subliminally.

Psychologists have examined very few of the many thousands of different subliminal self-help tapes that are available, but those they have examined seems to be ineffective. Some, according t Merikie (1988), contain stimuli that are simply too weak for the human ear to detect under any conditions. Others, when subjected to spectrographic analysis (which detects the presence of “voiceprints” in the soundtrack) were found to contain no message at all.

2. Maitland, Laura Lincoln M.A., M.S., AP Psychology, The McGraw-Hills Company, Inc., 2009-2011, p. 85 & 95

Extrasensory perception (ESP) is the controversial claim that perception can occur apart from sensory input. It includes telepathy, clairvoyance and precognition.

Claims of ESP include astrological predictions, psychic healing, communication with the dead, and out-of-body experiences. But the most testable and most relevant claims are for three varieties of ESP:

• Telepathy; or mind to mind communication - One person sending thoughts to another or perceiving another’s thoughts.

• Clairvoyance or perceiving remote events, such as sensing that a friend’s house is on fire.

• Precognition or perceiving events, such as political leader’s death or a sporting event’s outcome. 3

A subliminal message is a message that flashes onto a movie or television screen so quickly you don’t consciously notice it, but your brain unconsciously registers the message.

Many people who have some knowledge of subliminal messages in advertising believe that subliminal perception can influence your buying habits. Also, many people believe that extrasensory perception exists.

Subliminal Perception

The absolute threshold of a stimulus is the level at which you can detect the stimulus half of the time. You can detect a stimulus below your absolute threshold. At or slightly below this threshold you may detect the stimulus some of the time. For example, flashing on a computer screen a photo of a kitten for only 13/1000 of a second is just below your absolute threshold for conscious perception. Being just below your absolute threshold, you probably will not consciously perceive the kitten, but your brain may process the image and react to it, most likely in the brain areas responsible for positive emotions. This processing of information that is below your threshold of conscious awareness is called subliminal perception.

Carefully controlled laboratory studies have successfully altered people’s attitudes and behavior using subliminal stimuli. For example, participants who were repeatedly show subliminal stimuli (abstract geometric figures or people’s face) later expressed a greater liking for those stimuli than participants who did not experience the subliminal messages.

3. Carlson, Neil R., Martin, G. Neil, Buskist, William Psychology 4th Edition, Allyn & Bacon, 11 Dec 2009 p. 155

One study explored this possibility with college students. Students first taste-tested two different types of cookies. Next, the researchers manipulated students’ thirst by telling half of them to refresh their taste buds by drinking as much water as they desired. The other students received no water Then, while answering questions on a computer, some students were subliminally exposed to neural words as pirate or won, while other students were subliminally exposed to thirst-related words, such as thirst or dry. Following this computer exercise, all students were allowed to drink as much Kool-Aid as they desired during a second test. Results showed that the subliminal thirst words did not influence the drinking behavior of students who had previously been allowed to drink water. Yet theses subliminal thirst words did significantly increase beverage drinking amount those who were already thirsty. In other words, the subliminal thirst words did not create a desire to drink beverages in people who were not thirsty, but they did increase the drinking behavior of already-thirsty people.

Extrasensory Perception

Some people believe that humans can perceive events in the world without using the normal senses. This extrasensory perception is a controversial topic within psychology, with only a minority of psychologists believing in its possible existence. The field that studies ESP and other paranormal phenomena is known as parapsychology.

Parapsychologists are the psychologists who study a variety of extrasensory abilities. Mental telepathy is the supposed ability to perceive other people’s thoughts. Clairvoyance is the supposed ability to perceive objects or events that are not physically present. Precognition is the supposed ability to perceive events in the future that is before they happen. Psychokinesis is the supposed ability to control objects through mental manipulation, such as causing the chair to move or a flipped coin to land either heads or tails. 4

Subliminal perception is the idea that stimuli sometimes influence our behavior even when they are presented so faintly or briefly that we do not perceive them consciously. (Limen is Latin for “threshold”. Thus, subliminal means “below the threshold.”)

Many years ago, claims were made that subliminal messages could control people’s buying habits. For example, a theater owner might insert a single frame, “eat popcorn”, in the middle of a film. Viewers, unaware of the message, supposedly would flock to the concession stand to buy popcorn. Many tests of hypothesis found little or no effect and the advertiser eventually admitted he had no evidence. Another claim is that certain rock n’ roll recordings contain “satanic” messages that were recorded backward and superimposed on the song. Some people allege that listeners unconsciously perceive these messages and then follow these evil advices.

4. Franzoi, Stephen L., Psychology: A Discovery Experience, Cengage Learning, 2010, p. 138-139

A third unsupported claim: “Subliminal audiotapes” with faint, inaudible messages can help you improve your memory, quit smoking, lose weight, raise your self-esteem and so forth. In one study, psychologists asked more than 200 volunteers to listen to a popular brand of audiotape. However, they intentionally mislabeled some of the memory tapes as “self-esteem tapes”.

Subliminal messages do produce effects, although most are brief or subtle. For example, people in one study viewed a happy, neutral, or angry face flashed on a screen for less than one thirtieth of a second, followed immediately by a neutral face. Under these conditions, no one reports seeing happy or angry face, and even if asked to guess, people do no better than chance. However, when they see a happy face, they slightly and briefly move their facial muscles in the direction of a smile. After seeing an angry face they tense their muscles slightly and briefly in the direction of a frown.

The study of such paranormal phenomena events that cannot be explained by known physical, psychological, or biological mechanisms is called parapsychology. The major focus of paranormal psychology is extrasensory perception, the so-called “sixth sense” by which people claim they can perceive objects or events without using the known senses. The forms of paranormal phenomena most commonly identified with ESP are telepathy, clairvoyance, precognition and psychokinesis. Telepathy refers to the purported ability to project one’s thoughts into other people’s minds or to read what is in their minds to perceive their thoughts or feeling without using the known senses. Clairvoyance is the perception of events that are not available to the senses. The clairvoyant may claim to know what someone across town is doing at that precise moment or to identify the contents of a sealed envelope. Precognition is the ability to foretell the future. Psychokinesis or formely called telekinesis is the ablity to move objects without touching them. Strictly speaking, psychokinesis is not a form of ESP since it does not involve perception, but for the sake of convenience it is often classified as such.

Critical thinkers maintain an appropriate skepticism about claims of ESP or other paranormal phenomena that seem to defy the laws of nature. Many claims have proven to be hoaxes, whereas others may be explained as random or chances of occurrences. Despite many decades of scientific study, we lack any reliable, replicable findings supporting the existence of any form of ESP that have withstood scientific scrutiny.5

5. Nevid, Jeffrey S., Essentials of Psychology: Concepts and Applications, Cengage Learning, 2011, p. 115-116


Subliminal perception occurs whenever stimuli presented below the threshold for awareness are found to influence thoughts, feelings, or actions. The term subliminal perception was originally used to describe situations in which weak stimuli were perceived without awareness. In the past years until these days, the term has been applied more to describe any situation in which unnoticed stimuli are perceived.

The concept of subliminal perception is kind of interesting because it suggests and reflects that peoples' thoughts, feelings and actions are influenced by stimuli that are perceived without any awareness of perceiving. Through the use of subliminal messages, a person can perceived these messages even if the person is not totally aware of it. Subliminal messages are words, images, or sounds that can be seen in television advertisements, radio, TV shows, movies, print ads or recorded music. This messages usually ignored by many people and their conscious minds. Since the conscious mind doesn’t have time to rationalize or analyze these messages, people might more easily accept them. Subliminal messages are widely used in advertisements in order to make people buy their products. It is also used to manipulate other people by hiding some messages on it. The opposite of subliminal perception is supraliminal perception which is the stimuli is above the consciousness of a person.

Extrasensory perception (ESP) is also known as the sixth sense of our body besides the five primary senses. ESP is studied by parapsychologists under parapsychology. The concern of ESP is about the things that a person does not usually do or be able to do. Just like reading the mind of other persons without any hint about it which is very unusually for a normal human being in this world. Experiences occurs in ESP are telepathy, clairvoyance, precognition, out-of-body experience and psychokinesis.


Encircle the letter of the correct answer.

1. Subliminal message involves

a. Acquiring knowledge or insight without using the known senses

b. Perceiving information presented below the level of conscious awareness

c. Perceiving stimuli in an underwater environment

d. Sensory system that can transmit all stimulus’ features

2. Supraliminal perception is the perception of stimuli that are _____ of consciousness

a. Below the level

b. Above the level

c. None of the above

d. All of the above

3. In subliminal perception, what chances do the stimuli get in order to say that it is subliminal?

a. 80% chance

b. 50% chance

c. Below 50% chance

d. Above 80% chance

4. It is a message that flashes onto a movie or television screen so quickly you don’t consciously notice it, but your brain unconsciously registers the message.

a. Supraliminal message

b. Concluding message

c. Subliminal message

d. Advertising message

5. Individuals who study “psi” and other paranormal events

a. Parapsychologists

b. Physiologists

c. Physicists

d. Physician


Apruebo, Roxel A. C.CI.P., R.L.G.C., General Psychology, Central Books Supply Inc., 2013, pp. 151-153

Maitland, Laura Lincoln M.A., M.S., AP Psychology, The McGraw-Hills Company, Inc., 2009-2011, p. 85 & 95

Carlson, Neil R., Martin, G. Neil, Buskist, William Psychology 4th Edition, Allyn & Bacon, 11 Dec 2009 p. 155

Franzoi, Stephen L., Psychology: A Discovery Experience, Cengage Learning, 2010, p. 138-139

Nevid, Jeffrey S., Essentials of Psychology: Concepts and Applications, Cengage Learning, 2011, p. 115-116

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“Subliminal Perception & Extrasensory Perception”


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