Sex & Subliminal Messages

Posted by Nick Niesen on October 26th, 2010

Sheng He, a cognitive neuroscientist at the University of Minnesota, and his colleagues conducted a study using subliminal images. They recruited volunteers from different sexual orientations and gathered together 10 members of each of the following groups: Heterosexual men, heterosexual women, homosexual men and homosexual women. Each group then viewed specially constructed images that were pointed directly at the left and right eye separately.

They used an image called a Gabor patch, named after the mathematician who created it to test our ability to determine spatial frequency and visual space. Sheng He explained that normally your two eyes look at the same image and therefore don?t have any conflict, but by using a Gabor Patch he could create a situation where the two eyes were looking at two different images. Now, when one eye is presented with an image that has high contrast and the other is static we will only see and be aware of the dynamic image. The other image goes undetected.

Using a high contrast image, presented to only one eye, the researchers could therefore cancel out the image that was being seen by the other eye. The volunteer would only be aware of the high contrast image.

During the experiment researchers presented a high contrast image to one eye, and an erotic image to the other eye. The high contrast image ensured the erotic image went undetected. Erotic images ranged from a naked woman to a naked man. For example the naked woman was shown to a heterosexual man, a homosexual man, a homosexual woman and a heterosexual woman.

In order to ensure that the invisible images were not detected consciously the volunteers were instructed to press a specific key on a keyboard if they noticed a difference between the images seen through their left and right eye.

Thirty-two trials were conducted and it was found that the men displayed a significantly higher propensity for detecting the orientation of Gabor patches when they were presented in a slot that was previously occupied by the ?invisible? image of a naked woman. This in effect showed that the naked picture acted as a subliminal image.

However, when heterosexual men were shown, a Gabor Patch, where there had been a picture of a naked man they had a much more difficult time detecting the orientation. The heterosexual women faired much better when shown a picture of a naked woman as did the homosexual men.

It seemed however, that the results were significantly better when the volunteers were shown the subliminal pictures that appealed to their sexual orientation. However, when they were shown the pictures without the high contrast ?blinding? subliminal effect and could consciously see the pictures the effects were not as good.

So, it would appear from this study, that subliminal images are detected by the mind and acted upon.

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Nick Niesen

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Nick Niesen
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