Progressive Awareness Research

Improving Lives One Person at a Time since 1984.

Subliminal Literature: Bibliography and Review


Peripheral Desk Reference C

Caracciolo, D., Shirsat, N., Wong, G.G., Lange, B., Clark, S. & Rovera, G. (1987). Recombinant human macrophage colony-stimulating factor (M_CSF) requires subliminal concentrations of granulocytes/macrophage (GM)-CSF for optimal stimulation of human macrophage colony formation in vitro. Journal of Experimental Medicine, 166 (6), pp 1851 1860.


Carlsson, I. (1986). "A visual half-field study of anxiety and defense." Psychological Research Bulletin, Lund U. 26(9): 15 p.

Compared visual half-fields examining defenses as mesured by meta-contrast technique. Results showed that both visual field groups reacted with the same measure of anxiety.

Carr, T. & Bacharach, V. (1976). Perceptual tuning and conscious attention. Cognition, 4 (3), pp 281-302.


Carroll, R.T. (1980). Neurophysiological and psychological mediators of response to subliminal perception: The influence of hemisphericity and defensive style on susceptibility to subliminally presented conflict-laden stimuli. St. John's University. Dissertation Abstracts International, 41 (1-B), pp 342-343.

Richard Carroll examined the individual response, or sensitivity, to subliminal stimulation.
Previous studies have indicated that the individual differences could be explained, at least in part, by differences in either hemisphericity or defensive style.

Four groups of subjects were selected on the basis of extremity in hemisphericity and defensive styles. Each subject was exposed, tachistoscopically to oedipal conflict arousing and conflict alleviating messages, a control message and three neutral messages which served as a "buffer" or baseline stimuli.

The subjects's dart-throwing accuracy was used as a measure of response, or sensitivity, to the conflict-related and control stimuli.

The results revealed an interaction between hemisphericity and defensive style. This indicates that the group with right hemisphericity with externalizing defensive style and group with left hemisphericity with internalizing defensive styles displayed subliminal sensitivity.

The groups with right hemisphericity with internalizing defensive styles and the left hemisphericity with externalizing defensive styles did not display subliminal sensitivity.
The results also indicate that, overall, the conflict arousing message led to significantly lower dart-throwing scores than did the conflict-alleviating message.


Carstens, C.B. (1983). Retrospective discounting and augmenting in an overjustification procedure. University of North Carolina, Greensboro. Dissertation Abstract International, 44 (3-B). ISSN: 0419-4209.


Carter, R. (1986, January/February). Whispering soft nothings to the shop thief: How "reinforcement messaging" works. Retail and Distribution Management, 14 (1), pp 36, 39. ISSN: 0307-2363.

Roy Carter explains how the use of subliminal messages can stop theft.

A new method for curbing retail theft is being tested. This technique, called reinforcement messaging (RM), involves the use of a computer-controlled public address facility to broadcasts messages such as "Be honest - Don't steal" over the store's loudspeaker system at the threshold of conscious hearing. The customers are therefore being influenced without being aware of it.

Due to the likelihood of this project prompting debate, the promoters have taken measures to dispel talk of mind control. It is being emphasized that only approved messages would be used, broadcasting would be at an audible level, and posters would be posted carrying the same message.

Studies in the United States indicate that the system works.
Subliminal Assistance, Ltd., the company that markets RM, claims the method can reduce shop theft by 30 percent.


Cassel, R. N., D. Hoey, et al. (1990). "Guided imagery with subliminal stimulus in a mind-body health program for chemical dependency rehabilitation (New Beginnings basic program). Special Issue: Special recognition to Dr. Russell N. Cassel." Psychology - a Quarterly Journal of Human Behavior 27(4)-28(1): 3-9.

Reviews the literature and data from psychoneuroimmunology and argue that guided imagery and subliminal stimulus offer an effective stress management intervention particularly for the rehabilitation of chemical dependents.


Castricone, L.E. (1987). Effects of subliminal symbiotic activation on empathy as measured by conceptual level of object representation, cognitive decentering and drive content. Dissertation Abstracts International, 48 (4-B), 1141.


Chakalis, E. and G. Lowe (1992). "Positive effects of subliminal stimulation of memory." Perceptual & Motor Skills 74(3, Pt 1): 956-958.

Examined the effect of subliminally embedded positive affirmations on short-term recall. Results showed that only the group receiving the subliminal affirmations improved.


Chaloult, L., Borgeat, F. & Chabot, R. (1980). Subliminal perception. 1. Its nature and the controversy engendered. Union Medical Canada, 109 (12), pp 1694-1700. ISSN: 0041-6959. Language: FRENCH.

This article examines subliminal perception with regards to sensory thresholds, perception, subliminal stimulation, photic stimulation and also the public opinion surrounding this issue.

Charman, D.K. (1979), An examination of the relationship between subliminal perception, visual information processing, levels of processing and hemispheric asymmetries. Perceptual and Motor Skills 49 (2), pp 451-455. ISSN: 0031-5125.

David Charman studied the relationship between subliminal perception, visual information processing, levels of processing and hemispheric asymmetries.

A subliminal letter was exposed to the left right brain hemispheres for either 15 or 30 msec.
Subjective guesses were more accurate for visuospatial positional recognition made to presentation in the right hemisphere whereas verbal recognition was more accurate to presentation in the left hemisphere.

The 30 msec. exposure increased the accuracy of the guesses.
The findings suggest that subliminal information is processed differentially by the hemispheres with respect to positional or verbal content.

The left hemisphere processes subliminal verbal information better than the right; the right hemisphere processes subliminal visuospatial-positional information better than the left.
These findings were discussed in terms of differential triggering mechanisms for levels of hemispheric processing.

Charman's findings reinforce evidence about the nature of hemispheric information processing (Davis & Schmit, 1973; Dimond, 1972 and Searleman, 1977)., as well as adding to this evidence on the grounds that the hemispheres appear to be differentially adapted/sensitive for specialized tasks, i.e. the subliminal information triggered their respective asymmetries beyond that of subjective awareness.

Charman's findings also reinforce Dixon's (1971) argument that subliminal perception operates as a function of exposure and intensity of the present information.


Cheesman, J.E. (1987). Distinguishing conscious from unconscious perceptual processes. Dissertation Abstracts International, 47 (10-B), 4335.


Cheesman, J. & Merikle, P.M. (1984). Priming with and without awareness, University of Waterloo, Canada. Perception and Psychophysics, 36 (4), pp 387-395. ISSN: 0031-5117.

Jim Cheesman and Philip Merikle conducted two experiments to examine whether meaning could be perceived without awareness in a color-naming task.

The color was immediately preceded by the presentation of a congruent color word, incongruent color word, or control letter string.

No evidence for perception without awareness was found when the threshold for detecting color-word primes was measured reliably by a forced-choice procedure, and no priming occurred when the words were presented at the detection threshold. However, systematic increases in the level of detection for the primes led to correlated increases in the magnitude of priming.

The results provided no support for claims that priming is a more sensitive indicator of perceptual processing than detection based upon verbal report.


Cherry, D. L. R. (1993). The effects of mood induction on nonconscious perception,

Oklahoma State U, US.


Cherry, E.F. (1977). On success avoidance in women: a comparative study of psychoanalytic theories. Adelphi University.


Chew, R. (1977, March 21). Three second spots - Too slow for 1992. Advertising Age, 48 (12), pp 1 & 87. ISSN: 0001-8899.

Robert Chew predicted that by 1992, television commercials would be short, fast bursts of symbols and flashes verging on subliminal communication.


Chimera, J.E. (1987). An exploration of the effect of auditory subliminal stimuli on schizophrenic pathology. Dissertation Abstracts International, 47 (10-B), p. 4335.


Chinen, A.B., Spielvogel, A.M. & Farrell, D. (1985). The experience of intuition. University of California, San Francisco. Psychological Perspectives, 16 (2), pp 186-197. ISSN: 0033-2925.

Allan Chinen, Anna Spielvogel & Dennis Farrell interviewed a group of senior training analysts from Freud and Jung Institutes and senior-level business executives in major corporations about the experience of intuition.

The findings suggest that intuition is a large family of experiences where subtle similarities alone revealed the blood tie.

Intuitions occurred in a distinctive media (verbal thoughts, mental images, physical sensations).

Intuitive experiences were related to subliminal cognition, merging experiences, and synchronistic events.

Women reported more intuitions than did men and this study outlines the resistances.
Intuition appeared to become deeper with age.

The data suggests that the process of intuition involves attunement, articulation and interpretation.

The process of intuition parallels the creative process and depends on the process of symbolization.


Citrin, M.D. (1980, May). The effects of subliminal oedipal stimulation on competitive performance in college males and females. New York University. Dissertation Abstracts International, 40 (11-B), pp 5399-5400.

Molly Citrin examined the effects of subliminal visual oedipal stimulation on the competitive performance of male versus female college students.


Claire, J.B. (1981). A holographic model of psychosomatic pattern: Freud's specimen dream re interpreted. Institute of Epidemiology and Behavioral Medicine, San Francisco, CA. Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics, 36 (2), pp 132-142. ISSN: 0033-3190.

Jill Claire discusses the specimen dream that Freud used to elaborate his theories and that contained a representation of his cancer, which manifested 28 years later.

The dream suggests an image of how a disease may become symbolically linked to a psychological complex through subliminal physiological changes occurring as a result of behaviors attributed to the complex.

The dream appears to operate like a holograph, exhibiting the seeds of past trauma while simultaneously predicting the future.


Clark, M.M. (1987) Effects of social support and subliminal stimulation on anxiety reduction. Dissertation Abstracts International, 48 (1-B), p. 258.

Findings suggest a lack of robustness of the effects of both social support and subliminal (psychodynamic activation) stimulation.


Cohen, R.O. (1977). The effects of four subliminally-introduced merging stimuli on the psychopathology of schizophrenic women. Dissertation Abstracts International, 38 (5-B), pp 2356-2357.

Roni Cohen examined the effects of four subliminally introduced merging stimuli on the psychopathology of schizophrenic women.

Two groups were examined in three sessions.
Group one received the experimental stimuli "Mommy and I are one" and "My guy and I are one".

Group two received "Daddy and I are one" and "Girlfriend and I are one".
Half of each group received the messages with verbal plus picture presentation, and half with a verbal-only presentation.

Each session ended with the Adjective Rating Scale, and the last session included collection of demographic data and administration of the Embedded Figures Test.
The results lend support to the hypotheses that, under certain conditions,

1) merging stimuli reduce pathology in female schizophrenics,

2) merging with significant objects, other than the mother, reduces pathology in female schizophrenics under certain conditions, and

3) the sex of the merging stimulus may be male or female for pathology reduction

The results do not support the hypothesis under all conditions, nor do they support that merging stimulus of the female parent reduces pathology in female subjects. Also, there was no significant difference in pathology reducing effectiveness between stimuli of male and female objects in general.


Condon, T.J. & Allen, G.J. (1980). Rise of psychoanalytic merging fantasies in systematic desensitization: A rigorous methodological examination. Guidance Center for Family & Youth, Danbury, CT. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 89 (3), pp 437-443. ISSN: 0021-843X.
In this study, Thomas Condon and George Allen present a methodologically rigorous replication and extension of the investigation by Silverman, L.H. et al, which shows that the success of systematic desensitization resides partially in its activation of unconscious merging fantasies.

The results obtained, however, pose serious questions as to the internal, external and statistical conclusion validity of Silverman's studies.

Bug-phobic women participated in 4 therapy sessions.

The desensitization technique employed was different to the norm in that subliminal verbal stimuli were substituted for muscle relaxation.

The three stimuli used should have;

(a) decreased fear and behavioral avoidance,
(b) increased anxiety, or
(c) had no effect on fear of insects.

Subjects in all conditions showed significant improvement on behavioral approach, self reported distress, and behaviorally rated anxiety.
No differential treatment outcomes were found.
Analyses ruled out such alternative explanations as therapist specificity or instrumentation deficiencies.


Conner, L.A. (1984). Subliminal messages - Part 1 Keeping watch, Series 2, Issue 5. Glen Mills. PA


Conner, L.A. (1984) Subliminal messages - Part 2, Keeping watch. Series 2, Issue 6. Glen Mills, PA.

Conner, L. (1986 in W.J. Donovan, Enter a quiet voice against shoplifting).

Lawrence Conner, Director of Shoplifters Anonymous, states that, due to the increasing problem of shoplifting, retailers feel that psychological deterrence is the most economical way to go.


Conner, L.A. Jr. & Conner, L.A. III. (1985). The Midwest Research report on subliminal messages in retail stores, Glen Mills, Pennsylvania: Shoplifters Anonymous.

Larry Conner states that the use of subliminal messages as a deterrent to shoplifters has a greater impact on occasional and habitual shoplifters.


Conte, M. & Gennaro, A. (1983). Unconscious perceptions, subliminal perceptions and subliminal psychodynamic activation: paths and methodologies. Giornale Storico di Psicologia Dinamica, 7 (13), pp 134-158.

An overview and discussion of subliminal information processing including the effects of subliminal stimulation on dreams, intuition, creativity and aggression; with comments on semantic symbolism and restricting effects of conscious awareness.


Cook, H. (1985). Effects of subliminal symbiotic gratification and the magic of believing on achievement. Columbia University Teachers College. Psychoanalytic Psychology, 2 (4), pp 365 371. ISSN: 0736-9735.

Harold Cook examined the effect of a subliminally presented symbiotic gratification and a magic of believing message on academic achievement.
The subjects were randomly assigned to 1 of 2 experimental message conditions or a control message condition and received on the average 12 sessions, 10 exposures per session, of 4 msec visual subliminal presentation of 1 of the 3 messages.

The experimental group's messages were either "Mommy and I are one," or "I understand statistics (or measurement)."

The control group's message was "People are walking."

Each session occurred immediately prior to a lecture in either statistics or a measurement class. Each of the courses was taught in a traditional manner by the regular faculty, who were naive regarding the experimental conditions.

The final examinations for each course revealed statistically significant differences in favor of the symbiotic gratification experimental condition over the control condition.
No differences were obtained between the symbiotic and magic of believing conditions.


Cooper, C. & Kline, P. (1986). An evaluation of the Defence Mechanism Test. University of Ulster, Coleraine, Northern Ireland. British Journal of Psychology, 77 (1), pp 19-32. ISSN: 0007-1269.

Two experiments were carried out to evaluate the Defence Mechanism Test (DMT).
Experiment 1 used neutral and threatening secondary figures.

The results showed that subliminal threat is a necessary element of the DMT.
In Experiment II, subjects completed the Sixteen Personality Factor Questionnaire (16PF), Group Embedded Figures Test, and DMT.

Although the correlations between the DMT scales and established personality variables were generally small, they were as hypothesized from Freudian theory.

The lack of correspondence, however, between the Repression scale of the DMT and a measure of perceptual defense questions the validity of this scale of the test.

DMT scores were little affected by individual differences in scanning speed when the influence of anxiety was controlled


Cooper, L.M. & Hoskovec, J. (1972). Hypnotic suggestion for learning during stage 1 REM sleep. Brigham Young University. American Journal of Clinical Hypnosis, 15 (2), pp 102-111.

This study shows that learning during sleep is possible, but the procedures used in this experiment were not appropriate for practical application.


Coren, S., Porac, C. & Ward, L.M. (1978). Sensation and Perception. Academic Press: New York.

The question addressed by Coran, Porac and Ward is, "do audio messages have to be above audio threshold in order to make a difference in one's thinking?"

The argument put forward is that, in the signal detection theory, a subject will alter his response to different levels of possible stimuli.

It is known that when the subject believes that a signal rarely occurs, then they will respond to the faintest sensation.

However, if it is known that the signal occurs rarely, the subject would be tempted to wait to respond until the sensation is stronger.

Using this argument, it should therefore be possible to alter response patterns by altering subjects' expectations.


Corrigan, R.E. & Becker, H.C. (1956). Research Report. Rome Air Development Command, Griffiss Air Force Base, Rome, NY.

Corrigan and Hal Becker provide evidence that

a) new and useful information can be subliminally communicated to the unconscious, and

b) this information can be used, at a later time, at the conscious level in a problem solving situation.


Corrigan, R.E. & Becker, H.C. (Oct. 30, 1962). Apparatus for producing visual stimulation. United States Patent Office, 3,060,795.

Robert E. Corrigan and Hal C. Becker filed a patent for apparatus which produces visual stimulation at levels of awareness below that ability of an observer to report the stimulus verbally.

The apparatus is to be used to impart useful information to the observer by subconscious stimulation, resulting subsequently in conscious purposive behavior of said observer without his awareness of the basis for such behavior.


Costley, D.L. & Moore, F.A. (1986). The subliminal impact and hidden agendas of training. New Mexico State University, Las Cruces. Personnel Journal, 65 (3), pp 101-102 and p. 105.

Dan Costley and Fay Moore suggest that trainers should be upfront about the use of subliminals for training purposes.
The concern is the possible effects of the subliminals after the training is over.


Crawford, B.H. & Palmer, D.A. (1985). The scotopic visibility curve and cone intrusion. Institute of Ophthalmology, Department of Visual Science, London, England. Vision Research, 25 (6), pp 863-866. ISSN: 0042-6989.

In this study the scotopic visibility curves of 2 observers was measured by determining their absolute thresholds for monochromatic lights.
It is postulated, however, that the threshold results in the long-wave part of the spectrum could be considerably modified by subliminal red and green lights. This is consistent with B. Drum's (1982) observations of subadditivity at threshold.


Crawford, M.A. (1985). Subliminal messaging - A 50s technology enjoys a rebirth. Security Management, 29 (8), pp 54-56. ISSN: 0145-9406.

Mary Crawford reported on the use of subliminal communication as a method to reduce retail theft.

There is controversy over whether subliminal communication is effective for the purpose of reducing shop theft, and there are also complaints about it intruding on personal privacy.
She indicated that, at present, no laws govern the use of subliminal communication although there have been proposals for regulating it.

Despite the controversy over its effectiveness, the use of subliminal communication is growing.

One company claims 20 to 40 percent reduction in losses.


Cummins, R.A. (1985). Subliminal perception. A discussion with special relevance to the uses of subliminal audio tapes. Bulletin of the Australian Psychological Society, pp 28-35.

Robert Cummins discusses research on subliminal communication, with particular emphasis on the faults in methodology.

An argument put forward is that of Timothy E. Moore, where it is believed that some of the results obtained from scientific research were actually due to effects of weak (but not subliminal) stimulation.

The article erroneously states that the practice of using subliminal messages was outlawed in the United States.

Cummins produces contradictions in his arguments against subliminal communication with his belief that such "mind control" techniques should be banned, whilst still maintaining that they do not work.

Cummins believes that any results obtained from using subliminal audio tapes are purely placebo effects.


Cuperfain, R. & Clarke, T.K. (1985). A new perspective of subliminal perception. Journal of Advertising, 14 (1), pp 36-41. ISSN: 0091-3367.

The problem with previous research regarding the effects subliminal stimulation has on buying behavior, may be due to the researchers focusing on the wrong areas of subliminal perception or making unreasonable demands on subliminal perception.

Research has suggested that right brain processing may be more efficient than left brain processing. Also, subliminal stimulation may affect most people through right brain information processing.

This means that multiple exposures of graphic representations of products presented to the left field of vision will generate effective subliminal perception.
Ronnie Cuperfain and Keith Clarke tested this model of subliminal stimulation in a laboratory study.

Subjects viewed a film concerning woolen-clothing soaps that did or did not have a subliminal messages (5 tachistoscopic presentation to the left visual field of a picture of 1 of 2 products).

Each subliminal presentation lasted for 1/60th of 1 second.
The subjects then completed a questionnaire that asked them to rank-order the 5 soaps.
The results indicate that the subliminal messages did have an impact on stated preference for the highly advertised, widely available product, but not for the relatively unknown product.

The test also suggests that regular programming presents a greater potential for misuse of subliminal stimulation than commercial breaks.


Czyzewska-Pacewicz, M. (1984). The priming phenomenon in semantic memory evoked by sub threshold stimuli. Polish Academy of Sciences, Psychology Institute, Warsaw. Przeglad Psychologiczny, 27 (3), pp 617-629. ISSN: 1148-5675, Language: POLISH.

In this study Maria Czyzewska-Pacewicz examined semantic priming produced by unconsciously transformed stimuli.

It is assumed that the semantic analysis of information received beyond the control of awareness probably plays a considerable role in more functionally complex cognitive processes.

Stimuli were presented below the threshold of cognition and remained in various semantic relations with materials consciously seen and transformed by the subjects.
A clear effect of priming was revealed by the shortening of the impulse transformation when it was preceded by a semantically linked stimulus exposed beyond the control of awareness.


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Report: The Truth About Subliminal Programs
(PDF Download)

Peripheral Learning Reference Guide

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Grants for Research