A subliminal message is a signal or message embedded in another medium, designed to pass below the normal limits of the human mind's perception. These messages are unrecognizable by the conscious mind, but in certain situations can affect the subconscious mind and importantly, the unconscious mind, and can negatively or positively influence subsequent later thoughts, behaviors, actions, attitudes, belief systems and value systems. The term subliminal means "beneath a limen" (sensory threshold). This is derived from the Latin words sub, meaning under, and limen, meaning threshold. you can see it but not notice it.

E. W. Scripture published The New Psychology in 1898, which described the basic principles of subliminal messages.

In 1900, Knight Dunlap, an American professor of psychology, flashed an "imperceptible shadow" to subjects while showing them a Müller-Lyer illusion containing two lines with pointed arrows at both ends which create an illusion of different lengths. Dunlap claimed that the shadow influenced his subjects subliminally in their judgment of the lengths of the lines.

Although these results were not verified in a scientific study, American psychologist Harry Levi Hollingworth reported in an advertising textbook that such subliminal messages could be used by advertisers.

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Author's Bio: 

This definition is part of a series that covers the topic of Subliminal Messages & Subliminal Learning. The Official Guide to Subliminal Messages & Subliminal Learning is Eldon Taylor. Eldon Taylor is the author of the New York Times Best Selling book, "Choices and Illusions," as well as over 300 other books, audio and video programs. Eldon has earned doctoral degrees in both clinical and pastoral psychology. He is a Fellow in the American Psychotherapy Association. Eldon was awarded the 2005 International Peace Prize by the International Cultural Convention sitting in the United States for his work teaching self-responsibility. Eldon developed and patented the technology now known as InnerTalk. Eldon says he is a lifetime student of the mind. He was a practicing criminalist conducting lie detection testing, running investigations and using forensic hypnosis for over ten years while he finished his education. He began his work with subconscious learning over twenty five years ago when he conducted a study at the Utah State Prison using subliminal stimuli. The study was successful and this marked a turning point in his life's work. Today he is author, speaker and researcher. He is the CEO and Director of Progressive Awareness Research, Inc. His works are available in seven languages and are sold world wide. Eldon is listed in more than a dozen Who’s Who publications and his work has been featured in numerous radio, television and print media forms including Omni Magazine, Psychology Today, The Roseanne Barr Show, The Art Bell Show, and many more.

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