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Glossary

Animation of sailing boatGet to grips with the terminology on this page and you'll find COVER OF THE DICTIONARY OF PSYCHOLOGYthat reading the various technical phrases will be plain sailing. For additional information about technical terms used on the subliminalworld.com/ web site see Reber's Dictionary of Psychology and other dictionaries as appropriate.

 

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lettera.gif (1505 bytes)Androgynous Androgyny is the state of possessing the characteristics of both genders i.e. a biological male may have psychological characteristics of both male and female members of specific culture. The sharing of characteristics is the outcome of social learning and is not a biological distinction.

Anomalous This was is related to Anomaly thus if something is anomalous it means that it does not fit it, it is different from the norm and thus an oddity or at odds with conventional standards, views or actions. One could even describe advertising containing semi-subliminal elements as Anomalous Advertising as it deviates from the norms of advertising.

Associative Conditioning This form of conditioning is the commonest form of conditioning found in the world of advertising.  It is also known as classical conditioning due to its historical origins (see Conditioning, below). For associative conditioning to occur one simply requires the pairing of two different elements.  The presentation of these elements together leads to the 'transfer' of some of the qualities of one element to the other.  For example, the use of well-loved or knowledgeable actors and actresses to present ordinary, everyday, products to some extent leads to acceptance of the products as having the same qualities of the presenters.   Similarly, the use of rousing music imbues a product with excitement. 

To be slightly more accurate in describing these processes, it is because we store or memorize information in terms of categories containing information about objects, actions, people, etc. that such associations are influential. A category that once may have simply contained information about the functions of baked beans becomes expanded to o include information about (associations with) sexy actors and actresses, stirring music, laughable actions, and so on.  Our recollections of baked beans are thus influenced by what might reasonably be claimed to be irrelevant factors.   In the extreme, given the extremely strong tendency for advertising agencies to associate products with sex or sexual activity (see the Almost Sexi page), we may one day expect all products to be associated with sex in the minds of the consumer.  We may then expect a reversal of the process and an emphasis on functional attributes as a 'new' means of differentiating one product from another. 

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letterc.gif (1514 bytes)Conditioning   Conditioning is a process almost universally associated with Pavlov and his dogs.   There are variations on the basic theme (see Associative conditioning above) but Pavlov's work is most strongly associated with Classical conditioning.     Classical Conditioning involves the presentation of two elements at the same point in time e.g. the presentation of food or an image of food at the same time a bell is rung.   Ultimately the bell when rung on its own will produce the same response as the presentation of food i.e.. salivation.   Note that salivating to the presentation of an image of food is itself a conditioned response due to the initial pairing of food and images of food.  Similar pairing occur in almost all forms of visual advertising and TV commercials (see Associative Conditioning, above).  All conditioning thus involves changes in behaviour arising from the presentation of one object, action or image in the presence of another.  The pairing leads to the second object, action or image 'taking on' the properties of the first.

Cognitive system The Cognitive system is that aspect of the nervous system involved with thinking, memory, reasoning, perception and other abstract mental processes i.e. the psychological aspects of the functioning brain.

Connotations  In most forms of communications it is normal to state explicitly what is required.  However, there is no single meaning associated with most words in the English language.  The context, degree of emphasis, and other factors can lead to a change in meaning.   Similarly with visual images.    Visual images can be used to present a multiplicity of messages as an image only has the meaning attributed to it by the viewer.  Images can therefore be manipulated by advertising agencies to trigger thoughts in a manner that would normally be considered unacceptable if the same 'message' had been presented explicitly.  This can be achieved by choosing images that are known to trigger relevant moods or thoughts or by making use of visual images that present a visual equivalent of colloquial or slang sayings.   The images thus have a variety of connotations and their meaning cannot be 'pinned down'.   Connotation is related to allusion but the latter is usually deemed more specific in that one would allude (directly or indirectly) to a more specific meaning.

Consciousness  The process of consciousness is that aspect of our psychological functioning that we are consciously aware of and can reflect upon.  By definition, it is distinguished from processes that are unconscious and cannot be reflected upon nor influenced.  Note, that we are not always consciously aware and can often act in a habitual manner e.g. driving across town (whilst sober) without any apparent memory of the experience afterwards.  Such behaviours indicate that it is quite possible to respond to environmental influences without any conscious degree of involvement.  In the context of advertising, one must thus acknowledge that, to some degree, it is possible to 'attend' to adverts, make sense of the information or imagery contained in the advert, and yet not have any conscious awareness of having noticed what the advert contained. 

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letterd.gif (1285 bytes)Disingenuous If one is disingenuous one is telling the truth but at the same time knowledgeable that one is not telling the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. In effect, whilst not lying, one is giving an answer that is not directly related to the question being asked and this answer is deceitful. For example, to know that there is a distinction between subliminal and semi-subliminal adverts despite the fact that the literature generally sums it all up under the term subliminal advertising allows advertising professionals to answer queries from the lay person who is only familiar with the term subliminal advertising and actually worried about what he/she can perceive i.e. the semi-subliminal aspects, to be fobbed off with statements that subliminal advertising does not exist.

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lettere.gif (1347 bytes)Elicit To elicit something is to bring it forth or to draw out. The term is usually used in contexts where there is a cause and effect relationship such as in experiments where a stimulus is used to draw out a response from a participant. An everyday example is where asking a question elicits an answer.

Embedded The term embedded is usually used to indicate that something has been inserted, implanted or hidden within another. In the context of advertising one is usually referring to an image or word that is hidden in the background of a larger, more salient image. The embedded image may also be incomplete or camouflaged by using the same tones as the larger image. Embedded imagery in ads is thus usually difficult to detect and its existence is debatable because the general characteristics are ambiguous in nature.

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letterf.gif (974 bytes)Figure-ground illusion  This type of illusion generally has two possible interpretations, only one of which can be attended to at any one time using normal vision. Both aspects can sometimes be 'seen' if the viewer 'squints' at the illusion.   What is perceived is variable: on one occasion one figure will be perceived and the other aspect of the illustration will be perceived as the background.   In the reverse situation, sometimes 'forced' by attempts to pay attention to the alternative view and sometimes simply because the visual system 'becomes weary' of responding in a consistent manner to ambiguous information, and what was the background now becomes the perceived figure and the previously perceived figure becomes the background.   See Visual Illusion below for a couple of examples or refer to the various psychology and perception textbooks listed in the Bibliography.

The technical term normally used to describe the tendency for perceptual processes to produce automatic changes in perception after the system has 'got tired' of responding consistently is Habituation. This occurs because the underlying physiological processes cannot keep responding consistently to unchanging stimuli. They tire, and other (opposing) processes 'have their say', hence the reversal of images in illusions such as the Necker Cube.

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letteri.gif (751 bytes)Innocuous To be innocuous is to be non-threatening, to blend into the background, to be bland, perhaps even boring.

 

 

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letterm.gif (1737 bytes)Manipulative advertising  This term encompasses a wide variety of advertising.  The common denominator is that the forms of advertising all attempt to influence consumers and potential consumers using techniques that are not generally open to conscious appraisal. If these were television commercials they would be in breach of the guidelines laid down by the Independent Broadcasting Association  No such restrictions apply to printed advertising, except where these might be deemed to bring the advertising profession into disrepute.

Manipulative techniques range from the semi-subliminal presentation of images or textual information to the use of veiled and colloquial meanings in language.  The techniques may also involve a combination of imagery and linguistic information.  In some cases the techniques are noticeable when attention is directed towards them, in other cases the presentation is close to the limits of perceptual ability and remains undetected even when attention is directed towards the relevant aspects of an advert.

Semi-subliminal advertising (see below) is not synonymous with manipulative advertising although they share many of the same characteristics. A tightly defined meaning for semi-subliminal advertising would include only ads containing visual stimuli that existed on the borderline of perceptual ability i.e. were semi-subliminal.  There are however many examples of adverts where the stimuli is not on the threshold of perceptual ability but they nevertheless are designed so that their meaning is not obvious and conscious reflection is not desired. It appropriate to define them as manipulative but not semi-subliminal. 

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lettern.gif (1642 bytes)Negative moods   A negative mood is an emotional state that will be considered undesirable and therefore action is likely to be taken to change this state.   In normal circumstances, negative moods will be of relatively short duration. Negative moods may be responded to without any conscious appreciation e.g. if an ad triggers memories that are worrying an immediate tendency would be to repress that mood. For smokers there might be a tendency to smoke so that the intake of nicotine would help 'remove' that anxiety.

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letterp.gif (1408 bytes)Pareidolia Pareidolia is a form of illusion or misperception involving a vague or obscure stimulus being perceived as something clear and distinct. For example, in the discolorations of a burnt tortilla one sees the face of Jesus Christ. Click here for the entry as given in the Skeptic's Dictionary. Whilst such misperceptions do exist e.g. perceiving the man in the moon, these should not be confused with images deliberately embedded in adverts and works of art. Given the importance of this phenomena an extended commentary on the subject and its relevance to embedded imagery on the bordlerline of perceptual ability it provided below.

True pareidolia are idiosyncratic 'images', the contributory stimuli can be recognised e.g. the craters on the moon or bushes casting a shadow, and the outcomes can be recognised as illusions. Semi-subliminal embedded elements in ads, in contrast, are not intended to be consciously recognised by viewers, are often meaningful and related themes or other aspects of an advert. Both forms of perception can influence preferences, judgements (and presumably, in due course, behavior). That viewers respond to such influences can be experimentally verified. But, given that such stimuli can be produced unintentionally, how can one discriminate between intentional artwork intended to manipulate and unintentional work that produces essentially the same type of imagery?

An excellent example illustrating the problem is an essentially meaningless image presented on the front page of James Elkins' book The Domain of Images

The cover of Elkins' book is a 'noisy' astronomical CCD image i.e. it has lots of blemishes and meaningless elements 'messing up' the representation of the actual astronomical scene. It was not generated by artists yet contains the same type of ambiguous background material that one can find in many ads and other illustrations. There are two black and while versions of the same image in Elkins' book. One is a 'noisy' CCD image. The other is a 'cleaned up' version, which is much clearer and lacks the ambiguious background of the 'noisy' image. If one looks carefully at the pattern evident on the two 'noisy' images (the cover and page 11) one can perceive various 'letters' and other 'shapes' where the random 'noise' combines into perceptible 'shapes'. But, unless one wishes to believe in a godlike entity who indulges in placing 'subliminal' 'lettering' in astronomers CCD images, such 'letters' and any other 'shapes' have to be recognised as pareidolia. When individuals such as the author take an interest in embedded advertising material a standard criticism is that one is 'reifying' ones misperceptions in exactly the same manner i.e turning the (mis)perception of meaningless elements into a delusionary image.

If the perception of embedded messages/images in ads on the borderline of perceptual ability were simply cases of misperception, then the author contends one would have to acknowledge that such misperceptions are sufficiently common to justify advertisers modifying adverts to incorporate the type of 'noisy' cues that produce misperceptions. This argument is not intended to be a case of Catch 22 nor of 'Having ones' cake and eating it' - 'noisy' backgrounds in ads are not universal. In fact, one finds the artistry necessary to produce such 'misperceptions' much more common in certain types of ads than others. Whether these differences are deemed artistic style or are the result of conscious attempts at manipulation, at some point one can no longer define the responses to such ads as pareidolia. One has to accept that one is dealing with what Wilson Key referred to as subliminal material and the author prefers to call semi-subliminal material. That is, the ads are functional, in that they further the aims of advertisers in influencing consumers although the semi-subliminal contents may not always be intentional. In simple terms, such ads are more appealing to consumers.

One can only state a low degree of confidence in judgements of such ads when compared to judgements of much more clear cut images, such as in the Big isn't it ad and others, many of which are illustrated on the Ads of the Month pages. However, the distinction that can be made between random noise in images and equivalent artwork is open to investigation on the basis of the suggestion made above. Certain ads e.g. for Marlboro, contain considerably more 'random' noise ('noisy' and interpretable background material) than other, more cleancut, pictorial ads.

Such 'noisy' elements may be intentional i.e. intended to produce 'messages' once readers are primed to think along set lines, for example, when viewing a young person's magazine emphasizing sex. On the other hand, they may be the outcome of investigations that showed them to be more effective (without any awareness of why they were more effective). The answer to questions about this issue are, no doubt, tucked away in the archives of Philip Morris and their advertising agencies.

In the author's experience, in which a range of embedded images in ads for the same brand were identified independently lead him towards a preference for the former i.e. intentional artwork. These ads included elements that were easy to perceive, in retrospect, to those on the borderline of perceptual ability i.e. pareidolia-like stimuli. However, one must also acknowledge that the opposite may hold true where ambiguous, borderline, stimuli exist. The seeking of ads with embedded elements may have produced a mental set that predetermined the outcome when very ambiguous material was present. However, as noted above, it is possible to experimentally compare different types of ads. Such experiments provide one means of discrminating between pareidolia and semi-subliminal 'messages'. See also Projection.

Perception Perception has to be distinguished from seeing.  A person sees with the eyes but what is seen has no more meaning than characters in a strange language. What we see is simply variations in colour and intensity. It is the understanding of the sensory input from the eyes that makes the input meaningful and thus useful.

Meaning only exists when sensory input is related to knowledge acquired from previous experience.   Visual perception, knowing what something is and knowing what to expect of it, etc., thus arises from the integration of information acquired from the sensory system of the eye with with what is already known.   

Because perception is a complicated process, it has to be acknowledged that objects and actions are not automatically recognized. Even everyday objects have to be understood in terms of 'regular' or 'lawful' relationships or rules regarding sensory input and stored knowledge.  We can perceive an object and understand it as a car suitable for transportation. But to achieve this goal we have actually integrated the sensory input with what we know about cars. In terms of adverts we again only see displays of colour and intensity variation but we make sense of this on the basis of existing knowledge and thus recognize brands, illustrations, etc.  An indication of how learning is involved in perception has been experienced by everyone who wears glasses with varifocal lenses. Initial experiences with the lenses are confusing until one learns that part of the visual field is related to distant objects and another to reading material that is much closer. After a few days experience our brain automatically switches back and forward between modes depending upon which sensory input is 'in focus'. A blink of the eye is usually all that is required to change focal attention when moving attention from near to distant objects. But note that learning was first required before we could easily make sense of the different types of information received from the eye.

Because of the involvement of previously stored knowledge, if there is no linguistic content in an ad to direct or influence thought, then the viewer is more likely to 'add' information to make 'sense' of what has been seen. As noted previously, this knowledge does not simply relate to what is included in an advert, it can also relate to what is expected but excluded from the ad.  Perception is thus a much more complex process than seeing. Because it is based on the experiences of the individual and subject to individual variations on the basis of knowledge, expectations, attitudes, moods and so on, one cannot be certain that, even after seeing the same object or actions, two individuals will perceive it in the same way. A typical example involves the interpretation of actions rather than a static advert. Football supporters for two teams can see exactly the same film clip and yet interpret the actions of the players in different ways because of their

Perceptual ability  Perceptual ability is the term applied to the actions of that portion of the perceptual system (see below) devoted to vision when an attempt is made to detect visual stimuli.   The limit to this ability is variable and can be determined by studies presenting subjects with a variety of input, ranging from clearly visible to borderline subliminal and onwards to the truly subliminal. At some point on this continuum there will be a level where visual input is recognized 50% of the time. This is usually defined as the limit of perceptual ability. A more extreme cut-off point is somewhat arbitrary and can be set at the point when an individual can never see any input. Beyond this absolute limit of perceptual ability any visual stimuli is clearly subliminal.

Perceptual system The perceptual system incorporates the visual system and those  portions of the brain that are involved in understanding and making sense of input from the visual system.

Perspicacity To be able to discern differences, to understand.

Placebo Effect An effect or influence upon a person that is attributed to some external cause, usually a medicine, but is actually due to the strong beliefs of the individual concerned. Their belief in the power of the 'medicine' helps them change their behaviour or improves their health. A small but notable effect can be found with audio tapes and other devices which really have no benefits other than providing a 'helpful crutch' for individuals who wish to change or improve in some way. Most products claiming to provide benefits by supplying subliminal messages on video or audio tapes rely on this for their only effect. For the vast majority of individuals such aids are completely useless and a waste of money. For an example of a Subliminal Message programme for you own PC check out the Download Page.

Preconscious In between the two states defined as conscious, in which one is aware of what is going on, and unconscious, where psychological process function without any conscious involvement, there is another state that can be defined as preconscious.   As with actions in the unconscious, processes occurring in the preconscious state cannot easily be reflected upon but it does 'exist'. The preconscious state can be distinguished from the unconscious on the basis of clinical experience and experimental research. 

The unconscious is an ongoing state, that is not readily influenced by current circumstances i.e. it's functioning is determined largely by past experience.  Preconscious states are equivalent in some respects to the unconscious but it can be demonstrated that the preconsiously determined actions occur partly under the influence of current experiences.  Experiments, for example, show that even although participants in research studies deny having any knowledge of stimuli presented to them, their thoughts, dreams, answers to tests and questions, etc. all appear to be influenced by the stimuli they claim not to have 'seen' or 'heard'.  Some research indicates that subjects do seem to have perceived the stimuli but the stimuli were very weak and did not have sufficient 'power' to allow the viewer or listener to become consciously aware of the input.   In such circumstances, as with subliminal or virtually subliminal input, the sensory information has been processed at a preconscious level rather than a conscious level. Such information is thus deemed capable of a slight influence on linguistic responses and is also deemed capable of being consciously reflected but not capable of influencing behaviour. Members of the advertising profession would seem to disagree with this latter conclusion given their tendency to make use of semi-subliminal elements in their ads. Their activities would seem to be based on a belief that preconsciously processed sensory input will (ultimately) influence behavior.

Priming The most common appreciation of 'to prime' is related to pump priming in which a little amount of water is used to permit a pump to build up pressure in orde to function properly. The meaning is similar where priming is related to language or image recognition. When an individual hears or reads a word or sees an image, the activity that is triggered in the brain is related to other information. This associated information is also 'primed' or 'activated' to some extent. Any subsequent testing of this 'primed' information produces better or faster results than if no 'priming' had taken place. Priming is also related to the notion that suggestion can influence judgements. For example, if it is suggested that an advert contains a certain type of image, say the letters SEX, it is possible for the suggestion to lead to the detection of such letters even if they are absent. This is because activation of brain centres associated with the detection of such information leads to 'recognition' because attempts to extract meaning from ambiguous information is 'biased' in favour of the suggested content. See the Psychology page for an experiment indicating the power of suggestion to influence judgements.

Projection A more detailed discussion of projection is presented on the Imagination page. In essence, projection is an awareness of what are internally produced thoughts as if they were external, real world, events. In the present context of advertising, an example would arise if someone strongly believed that all ads contained embedded lettering and thus 'saw' such lettering in all ads. Thoughts, in other words, bias judgements in favour of recognising objects or images that one believes ought to exist, rather than assisting in an objective appraisal of reality and the resulting visual information. See also Pareidolia.

Prostrate Lay flat, become submissive.

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letterr.gif (1357 bytes)Reinforcement To receive reinforcement is to receive a reward of some sort.   This reward may be tangible, such as cash, or intangible, such as a thank you. Reinforcement may even originate internally and intangibly in the sense that an individual can approve of their actions and 'mentally reward' themselves.   More generally reinforcement can have both positive and negative connotations.  

Rewards are positively reinforcing and encourage more of the same form of behaviour.   Negative reinforcement, seemingly paradoxically, also encourages more of the same form of behaviour by removing or cancelling out something which is found irritating or annoying e.g. the buzzing of a malfunctioning fluorescent light can make one feel better.  Negative reinforcement should thus not be confused with punishment. The removal of the undesirable in effect still leads to a 'reward' in the sense that the situation is now better, thus encouraging more of the same.  

People generally confuse Negative reinforcement with Punishment. Unlike reinforcement, punishment decreases the likelihood of repeating an action..  

Rubric An established set of conventions or customs that help one make sense of some material.

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letters.gif (1498 bytes)Semi-subliminal Sensory input or stimuli on the border of perceptual ability can be deemed to be semi-subliminal in nature. See Subliminal for a contrasting definition. Further information about both terms can be found in the Frequently asked questions section.

Subliminal Subliminal is quite precisely defined as below the limin (or limit/threshold).   The term is usually paired with other words such as perception, learning or advertising and it is here that confusion begins to arise. Each area of interest focuses on different issues. See subliminal perception, subliminal learning and subliminal advertising (below) for further information. Additional information regarding subliminal advertising can also be found in the Frequently asked questions section

Subliminal advertising  Subliminal advertising is a term that has a number of definitions.  Psychologists would use this term rather precisely to mean advertising, like any other form of auditory or visual stimuli, that is presented below the level of absolute perceptual ability i.e. could never be perceived.   Many others use the term to mean that which is not consciously attended to. The term is also used to refer to elements of ads that are embedded in more salient material.  In other words the phrase subliminal advertising has a meaning more akin to that  which is semi-subliminal or marginally perceptible.

Semi-subliminal information can be perceived but is not generally noticed - as the ads on this site indicate.   Using the phrase subliminal advertising to refer both to information that is not perceived and information that is not consciously attended but can be perceived given a degree of conscious attention has provided the basis for much misunderstanding over the past 30 years or so.  These misunderstandings have made it easy for advertising agencies to disingenuously claim not to use subliminal advertising. 

Overtly and disingenuously they are referring to the specific meaning of psychologists. Less overtly they make use of knowledge gleaned from studies into subliminal perception, implicit learning and preconscious processing of information to produce advertising that is semi-subliminal in nature.  As this advertising is not truly subliminal, and they are criticized for producing subliminal advertising, they rest secure in the knowledge that so long as their critics attack subliminal advertising they are attacking an easily defended position. 

Subliminal learning    The Penguin Dictionary of Psychology refers to learning that is unconscious.  This definition is used by many authors in the fields of self development and selling e.g. Kerry Johnson (Subliminal Selling Skills) and Craig E. Soderholm (How 10% of the people get 90% of the pie).  Learning that is unconscious need not rely upon exposure to semi-subliminal stimuli, it may occur simply because people are not attending to something, or have been distracted, or even because they are experiencing sensory overload or too much stimulation.   Whilst some learning would seem to take place when individuals are exposed to semi-subliminal ads - and the learning does take place without any conscious attention - subliminal learning should not be equated with subliminal advertising.  The two are not synonymous.

Subliminal perception  Subliminal perception is a seemingly paradoxical phrase: that which is subliminal, by definition (see above), cannot be perceived as the stimuli that has been presented is below the threshold of perceptual ability. Despite the paradoxical nature of the phrase, it normally taken to refer to the effect upon an individual of stimuli that are around rather than below the threshold of perception i.e. the effects of stimuli that an observer possibly could but does not in fact perceive.   This means, of course, that the advertising presented in these pages is not subliminal advertising as the stimuli are not below the threshold of perception and can be perceived.  Nevertheless, conventional lay terminology would classify the ads as subliminal advertising.  To lead one towards a more accurate term the prefix semi has been appended to the phrase subliminal advertising so that one can distinguish between semi-subliminal and (truly) subliminal advertising.

Subliminal Persuasion Subliminal persuasion refers to the process that is presumed to occur when subliminal (more likely semi-subliminal) adverts influence viewers. The psychological literature and marketing specialists argue that such a process does not exist. If it does not, and their definition of what is subliminal is in accord with the definitions given above, should we now talk and write about semi-subliminal persuasion?

Superimpose  To superimpose one image onto another leads to a composite image. This combines the two different images in varying degrees.  The composite image may have characteristics that lead the image to be perceived consciously as one thing e.g. a cloud or a cliff face, but it also has embedded within it characteristics of the second image.   This second aspect of the composite image may be 'preconsciously recognized. by viewers but this information would not enter conscious awareness. Consciousness tends to acknowledge only the primary image because, as with visual illusions, people cannot perceive two images or reach two conclusions at the same time.  One or other must dominate and the other 'recede'.

Symbolize A symbol is something generally regarded as typifying or representing something else. The symbolic quality may be evident through association, the sharing of similar qualities or characteristics. Symbols may follow explicit rules e.g. musical notation or they may be more elusive e.g. the symbolic meaning of national flags. Any symbol may be used in advertising. Symbols may thus convey either their original, common meaning, or be used as a means of imparting some additional meaning to other aspects of an ad.

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lettert.gif (1398 bytes)Tachistoscope A tachistoscope operates in a manner similar to a slide projector but projects images for very short periods of time.For a commentary on tachistoscope usage in research: click here

 

 

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letteru.gif (1524 bytes)Unconscious Freud defined the unconscious in a unique and meaningful manner.  He also appended the term dynamic before unconscious to produce the even more meaningful phrase 'the dynamic unconscious', a phrase which conjures up images of psychological processes functioning - even battling away - inside the individual.   When considered in the context of advertising, it is sufficient to acknowledge that what is unconscious always remains so.  We cannot become aware of what happens unconsciously and although Freudian theory can be of relevance to an understanding of advertising, it is not particularly relevant to an understanding of semi-subliminal aspects of advertising.  The preconscious aspect of functioning is much more relevant. We are not normally aware of preconscious processes but, unlike unconscious processes, in certain types of circumstances it is possible to become aware of preconscious thought processes (see Preconscious above).

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letterv.gif (1498 bytes)Venality Dictionary definitions would normally state that a venal person is willing to sell their services or sacrifice principles for sordid motives. Whilst it is not venal to operate a commercial enterprise to earn a living one can reasonably contend that to produce and aggressively market products that are health destroying is a venal activity.

Veracity Truthful, the truth of. The term veracity is usually used when referring to conclusions drawn from experiments or observational studies with the establishment of a consistent and valid relationship between two factors.

Visual illusions  Illusions occur most readily in circumstances that are manipulated by experimental psychologists or when individuals are presented with abnormal sets of  cover of the book Incredible Optical Illusionsstimuli. A typical example is illustrated on the cover of the book Incredible Optical Illusions by Nigel Rogers. 

It is only possible to focus on one aspect of the image on the book cover at a time. First impressions thus indicate that it is a representation of a real object.  However, closer scrutiny reveals that such an object could not exist in real life, the angles at which the sides join together indicate that it would be impossible to produce such an object.

Other common illusions have two different interpretations, as illustrated on the postage stamp illustrated below. Even although one can be consciously aware that there are two possible interpretations of the image it is only possible to perceive one image at a time.UK postage stamp with illusion on it If you have not seen this stamp before, note that it is not simply a representation of a cow with black and white markings. An alternative perspective shows that it is also a doctor given an injection to a younger person. They are presented as silhouettes against a white background.  When perceiving the doctor inoculating the child the cow 'fades' somewhat into the background and vice versa.

Voyeuristic To be voyeuristic normally means to obtain sexual satisfaction or gratification from looking at the sexual actions or organs of other people. Given the sexual connotations of many of the ads illustration on Jim Hagart's Subliminal World it seems reasonable to apply this term to many of the facial images depicted in the background of these ads.

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Last Revised: 3rd January, 2003

 

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