Priming in the Context of Sublimial Advertising

Term Paper (Advanced seminar), 2018
10 Pages, Grade: 1,7



1. Introduction

2. Definition

3. Subliminal Advertising

4. Conclusion



Figure 1: Experimental Set-Up 2

Figure 2: Consistent vs. Non-consisten prime stimulus 3

1. Introduction

Some consumers are frightened by the thought of being influenced to buy something without noticing it. They assume that there are hidden messages in commercials that trick them into buying certain products.

Those subliminal messages can be related to the psychological construct of the priming effect. But can marketing experts really influence their consumers through hiding the priming effect in their advertisements?

2. Definition

To gain insight into the influence of priming in marketing strategies, one need to understand the meaning of the effect.

The priming effect described a chain reaction of two different stimuli: The first stimulus, also called prime stimulus, influences the cognition of the so called target stimulus through activating the implicit knowledge of the proband.1 In an example a proband reads the 3 words yellow, blue and red, which all belong to the word group “colours”. The fourth word is missing, but there is the hint, that it starts with “gr”. The proband will most likely answer “green” because it also belongs to the same word group.

But if the first three words would have been banana, apple and peach, the proband would have answered with “grape”.

In this case the word groups are the prime stimuli, which activate the implicit knowledge and therefore influence the answer of the proband.

An important key number of the priming effect is the Stimulus Onset Asynchrony, short SOA. It describes the time between the prime and the target stimulus.

If the SOA is under 500 milliseconds it is called automatic priming which means that the proband activates his implicit knowledge subliminal.

During the strategical priming on the other hand, the proband is partly conscious about the activation of the implicit knowledge and is able to think about the process. Here the Stimulus Onset Asynchrony takes over 750 milliseconds.2

Figure 1: Experimental set-up

Abbildung in dieser Leseprobe nicht enthalten

Source: Spering & Schmidt (2008): Allgemeine Psychologic 1, S.73

To measure the priming effect there are several established experimental set-up. During one of them, the probands are watching a monitor. The process is shown in Figure 1.

The initial state shows a blank window except for a small point or cross in the middle which helps to settle the eyes on the monitor.

After this fixation, the prime stimulus will show up on the screen. In this case the prime stimuli are arrows which point either to the right or to the left. The prime lasts for about 14 milliseconds. After that the monitor switches back to the Fixation screen.

The Stimulus Onset Asynchrony begins with the prime stimulus and ends when the target stimulus shows up.

In this experimental set-up, the probands has to press different buttons, dependent from the direction of the arrow during the target stimulus. The faster they press the correct button, the more significant works the prime stimulus.3

As the arrows during the prime stimuli can point into different directions, one can distinguish between a consistent and an inconsistent prime. As Figure 2 shows, the probands are able to react faster to the target stimulus, when the prime stimulus was consistent.4

Figure 2: Consistentvs. Inconsistentprime stimulus

Abbildung in dieser Leseprobe nicht enthalten

Source: Spenng & Schmidt (2008): Allgemeine Psychologic 1, S.73


1 Cf.Myers,David G.(2014),pp. 345.

2 Cf. Lackner, Karin (2009), p. 22

3 Cf. Spering&Schmidt(2008),p.73.

4 Cf. ibid.

Excerpt out of 10 pages


Priming in the Context of Sublimial Advertising
The FOM University of Applied Sciences, Hamburg
Catalog Number
ISBN (eBook)
Priming, Economics, Werbung, Marketing, Behavioral econonmics, psychologie
Quote paper
Ann-Sophie Theuring (Author), 2018, Priming in the Context of Sublimial Advertising, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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