Processing the meaning of stimuli in the absence of stimulus-identification

Author: Mark J. A. Zoon


Because perception is important in the field of advertising, some perceptual phenomena and theoretical insights are discussed, since several misconceptions, mysticisms and controversies seem to exist with regard to 'subliminal perception' and the role of affect in particular and tachistoscopic experimentation in general. A general principle of information processing is introduced, namely the TOTE-concept, which offers an explanation for the effects of tachistoscopic conditions on the perception process and the main results of recent tachistoscopic experiments. These experiments are convergent in pointing out that people can process stimulus-information at the semantic level of meaning, while they are unable to identify the stimulus (of which presence they are actually not even aware because of pattern-masking). It is argued that research in the field of marketing and advertising could take advantage of this situation by the employment of tachistoscopic pattern-masking techniques.

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