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It is not possible to prove the theoretical potential of subliminal audio from what data or research has been published till now.
The data that has is available till now suggests that subliminal audio has either no existence or is very weak. But the logic that theories put forth are very much questionable. The most prominent effects found till now are believed to be due to the listener’s belief of being influenced.
What matters is to prove it practically. Theories will always exist, but what we need is concrete proof. Perhaps, the most fascinating facet of science is to unearth the effects or results which no earlier models has forecasted.
To make matters worse, not much research and data exists on the masking methods implemented in commercial subliminal audio tapes. The effects have still not been proved, they still are assumed and no concrete results have occurred till now. Hence the effect is not of any particular interest among academicians. Its only the popularity among the people that it has surfaced yet again.
On the contrary, a huge amount of data exists in the field of dichotic listening and tachistoscopic subliminal techniques. Such a contrast surely raises doubts if the positive results are being suppressed by some envious forces.
No concrete results pertaining to the effects have been found by the experiments conducted on the subliminal self help tapes. Whatever is available as results is believed to be due to expectations and faith of listener. The ardent believers in the tapes say the concept is a secret and only they possess the technique which is functional. This technique remains to be tested though. This again raises questions about the tall claims made for subliminal audiotapes and the backward messages in music.
Henley and Dixon, two of the few researchers in this field, conducted an experiment to observe the subliminal audio effect. The basic aim behind this experiment was to observe the role of the laterality differences in auditory subliminal perception. The method used was to mask the subliminal messages with music. The participants did acknowledge the subliminal words more frequently than the control subjects. They could also distinguish the subliminal words from the checklist provided.
The experimental results of the Henley and Dixon experiment were reproduced by Mykel and Dayes. The method they followed was to employ music as a mask once and later no music was used. The results were vague. The subliminal group did acknowledge more than the control group, but the case was not the same when grouped by unbiased judges.
This resulted the kind of music that was used for masking to be suspected. Benes and team found that mellow music resulted in more target imagery than frenetic music, but the images were not relevant or related to the subliminal words. The control group when subjected to masking with music, produced more imagery than the subliminal group.
These results have caused a lack of interest in this area, thereby creating a huge gap. Nevertheless, the advertisers have fully exploited this gap saying that the research has not discredited the effectiveness that they claim.
The area of acoustic masking for subliminal message is even more under researched. This is because there is not concrete way found to deliver subliminal stimulus. There are practical constraints hindering too. It is tough to set the correct level of loudness and more difficult is to procure a good amount of fidelity on mass produced audio tapes.
There is a particular section of people supporting audio subliminal influence, who claim that results only occur when the listener is in a particular frame of mind. For instance, hypnosis may be that kind of mind when our brain processes non-salient signals. However, no concrete research exists to support this claim. On the other hand, the visual subliminal effect does not require this hence it’s relevance is even more doubtful. But perception and opinions, which differs from individual to individual makes a lot of difference to the response for subliminal and supraliminal stimuli.
There is a probability that audio subliminal delivery may someday be available. As of today there is nothing available even in the research world. Hence, these probabilities cannot be evaluated and so seem remote at this point of time.