The effects of subliminal stimuli in naturally occurring mood states on the performance of a perceptual task

James Messina, Fordham University

Abstract

Based upon evidence drawn from previous studies of the processing of information below awareness and the effects of mood state on performance, this study attempted to investigate the effects of subliminally presented location cue information and the individual's naturally occurring mood state on the performance of a perceptual task.^ Previous research had indicated that a stimulus presented below the level of awareness and not consciously perceived may undergo processing and analysis with demonstrated influences across a range of behavior (Dixon, 1981). Additional research evidence has suggested that subjects experiencing relatively elated moods may learn and perform more efficiently in certain tasks than subjects experiencing depressed moods (Bower, 1981; Izard et al., 1965; Messick, 1965). It was expected that subjects subliminally supplied with correct, incorrect, and no information regarding the location positions of answers to a perceptual task would show performance differences on that task. It was further reasoned that the individual's naturally occurring mood state might produce differential performance on the perceptual task.^ Fifty-one subjects ranging in educational experience from high school through graduate school were initially asked to rate their present mood on a modification of Wessman and Ricks' Elation vs. Depression Scale. The perceptual task of this study was to find embedded names that were hidden in picture puzzles composed of people and objects. Through the use of a tachistoscope, subjects were subliminally exposed to either the correct locations of the embedded names, incorrect locations, or a control stimulus supplying no information to the task.^ Analyses of variance were performed to examine the differential effects of the subliminal information and mood state. The dependent measures for these analyses were the time taken to locate the embedded names in the puzzle tasks and the number of embedded names found.^ Results indicated that the subliminally supplied information produced no significant performance difference in either the amount of time taken to locate the embedded names or the number of names found in the puzzle. Mood state did not produce significant differences on the time taken to locate the embedded names. However, the effects of mood state did significantly influence the number of embedded names found in the puzzle task. Subjects in elated mood states located significantly greater number of the hidden names than subjects experiencing depressed mood states.^ Recommendations were offered for future research examining the influence of subliminally presented task information on performance. Additional research studies were suggested for the investigation of affect-cognitive interactions. ^

Subject Area

Behavioral psychology|Experimental psychology

Recommended Citation

Messina, James, "The effects of subliminal stimuli in naturally occurring mood states on the performance of a perceptual task" (1990). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI9109237.
http://fordham.bepress.com/dissertations/AAI9109237

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