How To Force People To Like Your Website

Written On Day: 246
A smiley face forcing you to like this Chinese symbol

40 years ago Robert Zajonc did a very interesting experiment.

Volunteers are asked to watch a screen as a series of Chinese symbols are displayed.  None of the participant understand the symbols, to them they are nothing more then a bunch of intersecting lines and squiggles.  After each character is displayed the viewer states whether they like the symbol or not.

Of course, this is a very subjective thing.  Each person either likes it or does not like it.  If asked why they liked or disliked the Chinese symbol they usually say either that they did not know or they gave a reason like – it just looks nice.

To the participants it is an easy task.  Look at the symbol and state whether they like it or not.  They suspect nothing sinister.

What they do not realize is that milliseconds before each Chinese symbol is displayed on the screen there is another symbol flashed on the screen so quickly that they do not concisely see it.  Before a Chinese symbol appears on the screen the experimenters flashed one of two recognizable symbols – either a smiley face or a sad face.  They flashed it so fast that none of the participants reported seeing it.  But it was there.

The result of the experiment is that the participants where statistically more likely to like a Chinese symbol that had a smiley face preceding it.  Flash a smiley face, and the Chinese symbol will be liked.  Flash a sad face and the symbol will not be liked.

The revealing thing is that people can be primed to like or dislike something.  And the best part is that they do not know that it is happening.  Knowing this you can influence a persons opinion without them knowing you are doing it.  They  like something, but they do not know why.  There must be a way to harness this power and apply it to a website…

How To Apply The Smiley Face’s Mind Control Powers To Your Website?

Obviously the best way to apply this knowledge is to have a smiley face flash milliseconds before your website appears.  It would be so quick that the visitor would not notice it, but their subconscious would notice it.  They would be primed to like your website.  When your website does appear, without knowing why, they will like it.  Before reading a single line, before knowing what your website is about, they will be in a state of mind to like your website.  You will have them right where you want them – puppet on a string.

But unfortunately this cannot be done.  Not because it would be wrong, but because the technology is not there.  Currently it is not possible to have a image flash fast enough in a browser without the visitor noticing something suspicions.  The browsers might flicker, or depending on the connection speed the visitor would notice a lag in page loading speed.  Browsers are not dependable enough for this to work properly and reliably.  There will be some error, some glitch, some unintended loading pause and sooner or later you will be found out  – and that would be embarrassing.

So what can be done?  It is a waste not to use this knowledge to your advantage. 

The experiment teaches two things: people can be primed without knowing it and people are more likely to like something if they see a smiley face. 

Technology prevents you from flashing a happy face before they enter your website, but there is nothing preventing you from having a happy face somewhere on your website.  The effect will be the same.  Incorporate it into your logo, or simply have it sitting somewhere inconspicuously on your website banner.  

The visitor will notice it visually, but they will be unaware of its subversive subconscious powers.  They simply see it as a happy face graphic, without realizing they are being primed.  The visitor does not know that the smiley face has special mind powers –  the innocent smile sitting on the top-corner of the website reaching into their soul and forcing them to like the website.

  1. Lebowski
    September 4th, 2009 at 16:11 | #1

    Interesting. I have a question if I may. You claim that the use of subliminals is impossible via internet browers. Are they possible via Digital Television Broadcasts? If so, how could one confirm that they are either there or not there.

    Also, perhaps a subliminal cannot be relayed through the browser itself. But how do we know that it’s not being sent via the internet and directly into the screen, regardless of software being used.

    Given that Edward Bernays once said that according to his research, roughly 80% of the population is responsive to various forms of psychological suggestibility, what effect would if have on society if the words ‘Submit, Obey and Conform’ were subliminal broadcast throughout all major digital streams.

  2. September 4th, 2009 at 17:14 | #2

    Very interesting idea there, I can see how it would have a positive effect. I’d also say that, if you’re a blogger, simply being ‘smiley’ in the way you write, always being positive etc. can have an impact (though that’s more of a long term thing, rather than instant).

  3. September 7th, 2009 at 10:27 | #3

    @Lebowski
    Great question Lebowski…Unfortunately I have no idea what the effect of having the words ‘Submit, Obey and Conform’ constantly pounded into the brain would be. Maybe like for sewage plant workers, the brain will just start to ignore the smell.

    Also, I am sure that if there was some hidden message in the digital stream then some clever person would discover the subliminal message and make a great blog post about it. We would all find out about it – and the sender would be red faced and embarrassed. Basically, good entertainment and laughs for everybody.

  4. September 14th, 2009 at 06:24 | #4

    I’m not a big believer in the power of subliminal messages, but I do, however, believe in the power of the manipulate people’s emotions, such as the above example. So much of what happens in our brains goes unnoticed by us in our day to day lives, and often-times, people don’t even know why they like or dislike things that they do. Perhaps it is simply because their brains were primed to have a reaction to something that reminded themselves of a previous emotion? And what makes this example so simple is that almost EVERYONE likes smiley faces… lol. Maybe I will put a smiley face on my website. Just do me a favor and don’t expose my tactics, Roman. heh.

  5. November 14th, 2009 at 06:31 | #5

    I totally get the smiley face in the top right hand corner of your header now 😛 Another intriguing post!

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