Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Subliminal messages can influence us in surprising ways

Flag waving is a metaphor for stirring up the public towards adopting a more nationalistic, generally hard-line stance. Indeed, “rally ‘round the flag” is a venerable expression of this phenomenon.

It comes as some surprise, then, that studies conducted by researchers at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem have shown that exposing people to a subliminal image of the national flag had just the opposite fact -- moderating their political attitudes.

Further, the researchers say that their studies indicate that, in general, subliminal messages -- that is, messages that are processed by our brains but never reach our consciousness – do indeed influence explicit attitudes and real-life political behavior, a significant extension to what we know about the effects of non-conscious processes.

The studies, led by cognitive scientist Dr. Ran Hassin of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem Psychology Department, show that the subliminal presentation of a national symbol affects not only political attitudes, but also voting intentions and actual voting in general elections.

In an article in the U.S. journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, a team led by Hassin reported on a set of experiments that examined the effects of the subliminal presentation of the national flag. The experiments involved over 300 participants who were recruited on the Mount Scopus campus of the Hebrew University.

In the first experiment, the Israeli participants, divided into two groups at random, were asked about their attitudes towards core issues in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Prior to answering these questions, half of them were exposed to subliminal images of the Israeli flag projected on a monitor and half of them were not. The results show that the former group tended to shift to the political center.

In other words, a brief presentation of the Israeli flag – so brief, that people didn't even notice it – was sufficient to make people adopt more moderate views. Another experiment, that was conducted in the weeks that preceded the Israeli pullout from Gaza, replicated these results and reflected centrist views in relation to the withdrawal and Jewish settlers in the West Bank and Gaza.

The third experiment was held just prior to Israel's last general elections. The results were identical. The subliminal presentation of Israel's flag drew right wing, as well as left wing, Israelis towards the political center. Crucially, participants who were subliminally exposed to the flag said they intended to vote for more central parties than those who had not been exposed to the subliminal message. The researchers then called the participants after the elections, and found out that people who were exposed to the flag indeed voted in a more moderate way.

Why this exposure to a national symbol should have what appears to be a surprising moderating effect remains yet to be studied and analyzed.

"I think these results are interesting for two reasons," says Hassin. "First, they provide sound empirical evidence for the non-conscious ways in which national ideologies subtly affect our thoughts and behaviors. We are now extending this research to examine what other ideologies can do so and in what ways this is expressed. "

"Secondly," he continued, "these results significantly extend the empirical knowledge regarding the nature and influences of unconscious processes. We are now investigating the mental mechanisms that underlie this phenomenon, and I am confident that this journey will yield new insights to our understanding of the cognitive unconscious – and hence, of consciousness itself."

Jerry Barach | alfa
Further information:

More articles from Social Sciences:

nachricht Illinois researchers researchers find tweeting in cities lower than expected
21.02.2018 | University of Illinois College of Engineering

nachricht Polluted air may pollute our morality
08.02.2018 | Association for Psychological Science

All articles from Social Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Researchers at Fraunhofer monitor re-entry of Chinese space station Tiangong-1

In just a few weeks from now, the Chinese space station Tiangong-1 will re-enter the Earth's atmosphere where it will to a large extent burn up. It is possible that some debris will reach the Earth's surface. Tiangong-1 is orbiting the Earth uncontrolled at a speed of approx. 29,000 km/h.Currently the prognosis relating to the time of impact currently lies within a window of several days. The scientists at Fraunhofer FHR have already been monitoring Tiangong-1 for a number of weeks with their TIRA system, one of the most powerful space observation radars in the world, with a view to supporting the German Space Situational Awareness Center and the ESA with their re-entry forecasts.

Following the loss of radio contact with Tiangong-1 in 2016 and due to the low orbital height, it is now inevitable that the Chinese space station will...

Im Focus: Alliance „OLED Licht Forum“ – Key partner for OLED lighting solutions

Fraunhofer Institute for Organic Electronics, Electron Beam and Plasma Technology FEP, provider of research and development services for OLED lighting solutions, announces the founding of the “OLED Licht Forum” and presents latest OLED design and lighting solutions during light+building, from March 18th – 23rd, 2018 in Frankfurt a.M./Germany, at booth no. F91 in Hall 4.0.

They are united in their passion for OLED (organic light emitting diodes) lighting with all of its unique facets and application possibilities. Thus experts in...

Im Focus: Mars' oceans formed early, possibly aided by massive volcanic eruptions

Oceans formed before Tharsis and evolved together, shaping climate history of Mars

A new scenario seeking to explain how Mars' putative oceans came and went over the last 4 billion years implies that the oceans formed several hundred million...

Im Focus: Tiny implants for cells are functional in vivo

For the first time, an interdisciplinary team from the University of Basel has succeeded in integrating artificial organelles into the cells of live zebrafish embryos. This innovative approach using artificial organelles as cellular implants offers new potential in treating a range of diseases, as the authors report in an article published in Nature Communications.

In the cells of higher organisms, organelles such as the nucleus or mitochondria perform a range of complex functions necessary for life. In the networks of...

Im Focus: Locomotion control with photopigments

Researchers from Göttingen University discover additional function of opsins

Animal photoreceptors capture light with photopigments. Researchers from the University of Göttingen have now discovered that these photopigments fulfill an...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Industry & Economy
Event News

Virtual reality conference comes to Reutlingen

19.03.2018 | Event News

Ultrafast Wireless and Chip Design at the DATE Conference in Dresden

16.03.2018 | Event News

International Tinnitus Conference of the Tinnitus Research Initiative in Regensburg

13.03.2018 | Event News

Latest News

TRAPPIST-1 planets provide clues to the nature of habitable worlds

21.03.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

The search for dark matter widens

21.03.2018 | Materials Sciences

Natural enemies reduce pesticide use

21.03.2018 | Life Sciences

Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>