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Midwest Research Report on Subliminal Messages in Retail Stores

NCJ Number
L A Conner; L A Conner
Date Published
40 pages
Subliminal (both subaudible and subvisual) messages should be tried in retail businesses to help prevent employee theft and shoplifting, given their probable effectiveness and the absence of any legal or ethical arguments against them.
Subliminal messages are those received by the mind without conscious awareness. Subliminal messages may be communicated through videotape, film, printed art work, or audio tape. Various experiments have demonstrated the apparent effectiveness of subliminal messages in producing behavior that was not evident without the messages, but findings have not been consistent, suggesting the need to identify factors that contribute to the effectiveness or ineffectiveness of such messages. There is evidence that effective messages must reinforce or relate to a predisposition in the subject. Subliminal messages do not alter behavior towrad which the subject has a predisposed commitment. If subliminal messages communicated through sound or visual means in retail stores are to be effective, they should target vulnerabilities in the mind set of potential offenders. A particular vulnerability is the fear of getting caught. Messages should be framed to play on this fear and intensify it to the point of preventing theft. 20 references.