Warning: You are being primed! The effect of a warning on the impact of subliminal ads

Verwijmeren, Thijs; Karremans, Johan C.; Bernritter, Stefan F.; Stroebe, Wolfgang and Wigboldus, Daniël H.J.. 2013. Warning: You are being primed! The effect of a warning on the impact of subliminal ads. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 49(6), pp. 1124-1129. ISSN 0022-1031 [Article]

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Abstract or Description

As it has been demonstrated that subliminal advertising can affect consumers' decisions – if the ad is goal relevant – the question rises whether consumers are able to shield themselves from subliminal influences. In the present research it was examined whether warning people of the presence of subliminal ads could decrease subliminal advertising effects. In Study 1, it was demonstrated that warning people of subliminal ads indeed diminished priming effects on consumer choice, whereas subliminal advertising effects were replicated for people who were not warned (i.e., people for whom the primed brand was goal relevant were more likely to select it when primed). Study 2 extended these findings, revealing that both participants warned before and after the priming manipulation were less influenced by subliminal brand primes than controls. This suggests that the warning does not decrease participants' sensitivity to the prime, but instead affects the influence of the prime at the behavioral level. Several explanations and implications are discussed.

Item Type:


Identification Number (DOI):



Subliminal advertising, Goals, Warning, Motivation, Priming

Departments, Centres and Research Units:

Institute of Management Studies


1 November 2013Published

Item ID:


Date Deposited:

19 Sep 2018 11:47

Last Modified:

29 Apr 2020 16:52

Peer Reviewed:

Yes, this version has been peer-reviewed.



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