Subliminal messages - do they really work? Featured science projectScience project video

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Complexity level:
9
Project cost ($):
25
Time required:
2 hour to prepare, 6 days for observation
Material availability:
participants who have their own stereo sound systems with CD players, or iPods (or equivalent MP3 players) required. An MP3 recorder/player with sufficient memory storage or alternatively, you can use your home PC, with a microphone and soundcard.
Safety concerns:

None

Abstract

This experiment was conducted to find out whether subliminal messages can be effectively used to influence the decisions that the person makes.

Hypothesis

Persons exposed to  subliminal messages will more likely respond accordingly to the information contained in the messages.

Background

Subliminal message

Subliminal messaging is the transmission of information that will normally be ignored by our conscious mind but is instead perceived by our subconscious mind. The message may be transmitted  in the form of audio, visual, video or text. It is thought that because the subliminal message goes directly to the subconscious mind without the conscious mind  analyzing it, it becomes more easily accepted.

It is also believed that the behavior of a person can be altered by the use of subliminal messaging. Advertisers on radio and television are believed to be using subliminal messaging to convey hidden messages to the public.

The effectiveness of subliminal messaging has never really been proven. There is also a ban in some countries against the use of subliminal messaging in advertising. However this ban does not typically cover the music and the film industries.
 

Scientific Terms

Subliminal messaging, conscious, subconscious

Materials

The materials required for this science fair project:

-    20 boys and 20 girls age 12 who have their own stereo sound systems with CD players, or iPods (or equivalent MP3 players)

-    An MP3 recorder/player with sufficient memory storage. Alternatively, you can use your home PC, with a microphone and soundcard, to achieve the same results

-    40 blank recordable CDs, unless your participants have portable MP3 players (such as iPods)

-    200 orange M&Ms

-    200 yellow M&Ms

-    200 blue M&Ms

-    200 green M&Ms

Procedure

1.    For this experiment, the independent variable is the embedded message in the tape. The dependent variable is the time for the response of the participants after 5 days. This is determined by checking their choice of M & M color after the 5 days. The constants (control variables) are the length of period of listening to the recording, the age group of the participants and the number of  participants.

2.    Using the MP3 recorded/player some songs are recorded into the 1st blank tape. The same songs are again recorded itogether with an embedded message that “Orange colored M&Ms taste better than the other colors” being repeated in the background. To record the embedded message you will need software (such as Audacity which can be downloaded free of charge). Instructions on how to do this may be found on the internet.

3.    The 20 boys and 20 girls are divided into 2 groups of 10 boys and 10 girls each. The 1st group of 10 boys and 10 girls are made to listen to the 1st recording without the embedded message for 5 times a day for the next 5 days. You will need to disseminate the recordings either by CD or by transmitting the MP3 files via email or direct copying.

4.    Similarly the 2nd group of 10 boys and 10 girls were made to listen to the 2nd recording 5 times a day for the next 5 days.

5.    On the 6th day, the 20 boys and 20 girls are each given 20 pieces of M&M each. The 20 M&M s will consist of 5 orange, 5 yellow, 5 green and 5 blue pieces. The participants are asked to choose 5 out of the 20 pieces given to them. Their choice is recorded in the table given below.
 

Observation

It is observed that the 2nd group of boys and girls who were  listening to the embedded message in the recording for  5 days  showed some preference  for the orange colored M&Ms compared to the other colors. There was no specific tendency towards a specific color choice for the participants in group A.
 


Group

Gender

Color

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

8

9

10

Total

A

Boys

Orange

1

2

1

1

1

0

1

1

1

1

10

Yellow

2

1

1

1

2

1

1

0

2

1

12

Blue

1

1

2

1

1

2

1

2

1

2

14

Green

1

1

1

2

1

2

2

2

1

1

14

Girls

Orange

1

1

1

2

1

2

2

1

1

1

13

Yellow

2

1

2

1

2

2

1

1

0

2

14

Blue

2

2

1

1

1

1

0

2

2

1

13

Green

0

1

1

1

1

0

2

1

2

1

10

B

Boys

Orange

2

2

1

2

2

2

2

3

2

2

20

Yellow

1

2

1

1

2

2

1

2

1

1

14

Blue

1

1

1

1

1

0

1

0

1

1

8

Green

1

0

2

1

0

1

1

0

1

1

8

Girls

Orange

3

2

3

4

5

2

2

2

3

2

28

Yellow

1

1

1

1

0

1

1

2

1

1

10

Blue

1

1

1

0

0

1

1

1

1

1

8

Green

0

1

0

0

0

1

1

0

0

1

4


The graph below represents the results of our science project experiment.
Subliminal messages science fair project

Conclusion

The hypothesis that  persons exposed to  subliminal messages will more likely respond according to the information contained in the messages is proven to be true.

The use of subliminal messaging is still a very controversial subject. In the 1950s when the use of such messaging came to light, there was fear amongst the public, of mass brainwashing, until the 1970s when its use in advertising was banned. Even today, when we watch a movie or a program on television, could well be messages that are being pushed to us in the background. Intentionally or not, our subconscious minds are still being bombarded with messages that our conscious minds may not agree with.
 

References

http://www.wisegeek.com/what-are-subliminal-messages.htm

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Subliminal_stimuli

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