Subliminal messages are somewhat of a cultural obsession in the United States and around the world for many decades. Since 1957, when James Vicary began research into subliminal messages in advertising, in an attempt to increase Coca-Cola sales in movie theaters, various inquiries and national debates have resulted. Since that time scientists have continued attempting to investigate, prove, condemn, or disprove the effectiveness and use of subliminal messaging in advertisements, television, music, movies, and other media platforms. Recently, there has been a rapid increase in the number of videos created by various YouTube users that promise to rapidly change the lives, behavior, or even physical appearance of those who watch them.
YouTubers who do create these videos have gained millions upon millions of views for various subliminal videos. A quick sampling of some of the promises that these videos make include:
- Subliminal messages: change eye color
- Subliminal messages for weight loss
- Subliminal messages to attract love
- Subliminal messages for beauty
- Subliminal messages for wealth
As part of our attempt to lead people to skincare and beauty techniques that are effective, carefully investigating the use of subliminal messages for youthful skin is an urgent priority.
Subliminal Messages: Psychology
There are quite many misconceptions regarding the psychology of subliminal messages or subliminal advertising. Clarifying the difference between subliminal stimuli, subliminal influence, subconscious influence, and supraliminal stimuli is a critical step in understanding the psychology of subliminal messages:
Subliminal messages are by definition, stimuli that you cannot consciously process. Flashing images, hidden words in advertisements, hidden lyrics in songs can all be considered subliminal messaging. However, supraliminal messaging also has an impact on your subconscious. Millions of dollars are spent per year researching the best music to play in supermarkets to increase sales, the right temperature/lighting to encourage bar patrons to drink and eat more, and other tactics. These supraliminal messages work on a subconscious level as they are not explicitly telling you to buy more.
If you’re a fast-casual restaurant owner, making the temperature just slightly cooler and turning up the music marginally louder helps get people out of your restaurant so you can turn over tables faster. Playing slower music in a grocery store encourages you to walk slower, and likely buy more. Even though the lyrics of the song are not, “you should consider stocking up on that delicious coffee you like” the subconscious influence of the slower music makes it more likely that you might walk by the coffee aisle more slowly, and take more notice of the smell of the coffee. (Looks like no Maxwell house this week!).
When it comes to the psychology of subliminal messages specifically, research indicates mixed results measuring their effectiveness. Vokey & Read, 1985 suggest that there was little evidence to believe subliminal messaging worked. However, Karremans, Stroebe, & Claus 2006 suggested that when primed to choose between Lipton Ice and tap water, participants who had no preference when they pre-tested, typically chose the tea instead of the water.
But millions of subliminal YouTube video views can’t be wrong… can they?
As previously mentioned, YouTube has a plethora of subliminal message videos which claim to help viewers do a wide variety of things. If you believe these video creators, just by listening to their videos (or audio tracks in many cases) you can change the color of your eyes, grow your hair faster, reduce wrinkles, overcome acne, or tackle other issues which have temporarily hindered your appearance, wealth, or happiness.
Our opinion is pretty cut and dry on these videos. Most of them are nonsense created by individuals who would prey on the gullible to rack up views and advertising revenue. Changing your DNA which determines your eye color or predisposition to acne by watching or listening to a YouTube video every day is unsubstantiated nonsense.
To better prove our point, here are five videos that were created to help you become a different race. From fantasy-fiction movies and literature:
People who watch these videos, believing that they will grow elf ears, gain super-human senses of sight and hearing, or other “elf” qualities are either incredibly gullible or mentally ill.
Alternatives To Subliminal YouTube Videos?
Fear not, dear reader, we would not want to leave you without some assistance. There are certain positive qualities of some of these videos when they are not outright promising a cure for thinning hair, paler skin, or literal changes to your DNA. Using positive thinking and mindful practices to change your behaviors can improve the way your skin looks.
We recommend caution while using these techniques. Research indicates that when positive affirmations are used by individuals with low-self esteem, they can do more harm than good. For example, if you wish to tamper poor eating habits, saying “I am happy with my body” after severely binge eating will not contribute to a positive mind frame.
Instead of making statements like “I’m happy with my skin,” “I am beautiful both inside and out,” or other statements that merely test your self-esteem. We recommend taking a bit of time every day and focusing on mindful thought training.
Many practitioners of meditation and yoga follow a similar example. By meditating for 15 minutes a day, clearing your mind of anxieties, stress, and the general hustle and bustle of daily life, you can potentially improve the way you approach your day. Further, using affirmations that are realistic (depending upon your goal) can go a long way to help change negative behaviors that lead to wrinkles, weight gain, or other things you want to avoid.
- “I may not be perfect, but I am improving what I choose to put into my body.”
- “My skin is important to me, and I will wear sunblock on sunny days to protect it.”
- “If I don’t eat more vegetables, I won’t get enough vitamins. Since they are important, I will do my best every day to eat one more serving of them.”
These statements do not test self-esteem, but they seek to change behaviors. By being mindful of these things, gradually, you can work to improve your behavior until they become second nature.
The nebulous cloud of misconceptions, outright lies (and liars who tell them), and taking advantage of desperate people that surround subliminal videos leads us to conclude that they are not worth the time or effort. Rewarding unscrupulous YouTubers for creating videos to improve your life with advertising revenue is not something we recommend. Instead of spending 15 minutes per day watching a video that claims to do the scientifically impossible, we recommend starting your day with some meditation and working to improve your mindfulness in even stressful situations.