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Subliminal Affective Words Alter Event-Related Potentials But Not Behavior

Faculty Supervisor:
Dwight Krehbiel
Year of Project Completion:
Jacy Suttlemyre


The current study looks at the different reactions that a subject has to subliminally- presented emotional and non-emotional words. The non-emotional stimuli were in the form of discourse markers, such as “like” and “um.” The effects of these words were measured by the descriptions that a participant would give after viewing an image that contained imbedded subliminal stimuli. Results showed that participants did not show changes in emotion to the different images and that they did not include discourse markers in their descriptions. This implies that the words did not have a direct conscious effect on the participants. However, while they might not have been affected consciously, the ERP results show a difference in perceiving negative and positive words, meaning that while they may not have been aware of the effects and did not consciously report them, there may have been a change taking place.

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As the first Mennonite college founded in North America, Bethel College celebrates a tradition of progressive Christian liberal arts education, diversity within community, and lifelong learning.