Here is Epley's Review of Scientific Evidence

But first a few words about research.

 People sometimes ask "Where's the scientific evidence, the studies that show there is such a thing as subliminal perception and that it works as claimed?"

Unexpectedly, the problem is with the word 'scientific,' which suggests not only a specific method and reliable results but a process of open discovery and public sharing of those results.

As is often the case with government-sponsored research, in the corporate world, the world of trade secrets, very little scientific openness exists.The word there is 'proprietary.' Knowledge is owned exclusively by the sponsor of the research, the corporation.

Corporate knowledge is often compartmentalized and made available even within the corporation on a strict need to know basis. Involved employees sign non-disclosure agreements. Violation of contract by revealing secrets is a career killer and law-suit trigger.

When the research has been contracted out to a firm that specializes in that kind work, the knowledge is further compartmentalized. The specialists keep the specialized methods to themselves while the corporate contacts who hired them get access only to the more generalized results.

The methods of the corporation's research department or of the specialized research firm may or may not be strictly scientific. Who knows? Most of its very existence is secret and denied (as the cigarette companies have demonstrated).

And it's no secret that there is a voodoo element in much corporate research and a faddishness in much of policy-making.

But it is certain that the process is not open and the results not shared and able to be publicly confirmed or refuted.

What little is reported in outlets such as The Journal of Advertising Research only hints at the accumulated knowledge of this subject stored in corporate 'vaults,' a tiny bit of which is now and then acknowledged 'off the cuff'--as a bit of a brag--to an outsider over a drink or three. That's my experience.

NOTE: My favorite gambit is to 'insult' the potential source by ridiculing the whole subliminal thing as a practical joke foisted on the public by a bunch of fakers who wouldn't know valid and reliable research if it bit them in the ass.

An interesting note:

Five, even 10 years later, I've had many people who were exposed to ad examples in slide presentations be able to not only recall specific ads, but also what was said about them, even though only a minute or less had been spent on some of those examples.

What made them stick in the mind so tightly after all that time?


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