The sleeper effect is a manipulation technique that is commonly employed by the mainstream media, whether its for politics, advertisements, or whatever. Learn more here:
Today we’re going to learn about the sleeper effect, now let’s begin.
Think back to the last commercial you watched, it might have even been a few seconds ago when you clicked on this video can you remember what that commercial was about, was it showing off the latest car, a preview for an upcoming movie or an ad for some cutting-edge medication ?.
You encounter an overwhelming amount of these advertisements on a daily basis; on average, you waste a full hour of every day watching ads now; of course, you don’t remember most of them. You remember the show you were watching or the game you were playing, but the ads they’re just a blur in your memory.
You tune them out like background noise like the cars honking outside your window or the dogs barking down the streets. You don’t remember them. You barely pay attention to them, yet every advertisement has a powerful effect on you, whether you like it or not.
The media influences your opinions; it changes your preferences; it even controls your lifestyle. It may not always be obvious or direct, but it’s still happening; you just take those car commercials you see every day. How many of them really convinced you to buy a new car? Probably none, just like none of those pharmaceutical ads suddenly inspire you to go see your doctor.Each advertisement you ingest slowly but surely alters your perspective. You can't see it happening, and you'll hardly ever notice the difference, but your mind is being made up for you. Click To Tweet
so how do they do it? How does the media manipulate your life? people think advertising is simple and straightforward, but it’s a lot more complicated than you think. Commercials don’t just show you a product and expect you to buy it. Some do, but those ads aren’t the most effective; in the long term, they’re great for a temporary burst of business, but over time, the hype around any new product will just die down, and people will quickly go back to their old routine.
This makes a lot more sense in context ,so let’s look at an example, imagine a soda company makes a new line of low-calorie drinks they want to get the word out there, so they make a commercial that shows off how great their new soda tastes. You see the commercial on TV, and at the moment you think to yourself hmm that soda looks pretty good but a couple of days go by, and you forget all about that commercial .so when you finally go to the store you end up buying the same soda that you always buy so to make sure this doesn’t happen.
The best commercials have to be a lot sneakier they use advanced persuasion techniques to help their message stick. Some ads will sell you on a lifestyle instead of a product; they show you this fantasy life filled with family fun and luxury and that association subtlety changes your opinion of their product.
If you want proof, just think about how many car companies spend 90% of their commercial talking about anything but the actual car, but other ads Lodge themselves in your memory, by doing something really strange they make themselves less persuasive in a way that persuades more people.
The sleeper effect is one of the best-kept secrets of the advertising industry. It’s actually been around since the 1940s when it was first discovered by Carl Holland and his colleagues. At the time Hovland was researching how the media affected people’s opinions of World War two, his data revealed that certain ads were ineffective at first but had a significant impact over time.
In other words, your opinion might be exactly the same after your first viewing and even your second, and you’re third but as more time goes by that message will have a larger and larger effect on you, it’s worms, its way into your brain, changing the way you think, behave and live your life. But how does it work in his next batch of experiments?.
Carl Hofland found that the sleeper effect needs two things to function ;
These ads get played all the time. You may not remember them, but you’ve been watching these sleeper ads every day for weeks or months. At a time, just think about the jingles that you can’t stop humming, the catchphrases, and phone numbers that keep popping into your head. You don’t know where they came from, but they’re always there
Scientists call this device the discounting cue, whether you realize it or not you’ve seen this device in action hundreds of times. You know how at the end of most political ads, they tell you that it was paid for by their opponent doesn’t. That makes the ad less believable at first.
You might have bought into their costs, but when you see that you pull back a little, that obvious lack of credibility means most people won’t change their minds. You won’t really internalize their message, so why would these political ads include something that obviously hurts?. Their cause that message acts as a discounting cue; it undermines the effectiveness of the ad because they’re not trying to persuade you.
Now they don’t care if you leave the commercial feeling motivated .in fact, they don’t want you to because those impulsive reactions fade quickly over time. That’s why they added discounting cue to neutralize their own commercial, but what stops that discounting cue from ruining their whole ad. It turns out discounting cues are easy to forget.
When you watch the same commercial over and over, the message will stick, but the lack of credibility won’t, you’ll gradually internalize one and forget about the other. Psychologists call this process dissociation. In your mind, you naturally separate the message from its discounting cue, and without that queue, the message becomes much more persuasive.
There’s nothing stopping their ad from completely changing your opinion, so even if you know a commercial isn’t credible, it can still have a major effect on you.
One of the most famous examples of the sleeper effect comes from a group of psychologists. In the 1970s, this study was actually the first to definitely replicate tables groundbreaking discovery, which happened over 25 years earlier until 1978, researchers couldn’t figure out how to replicate his findings.
This study showed the power of the sleeper effect and how big of a difference the right cue can make the study itself was pretty simple. A sample of college students had to read a controversial news article, the article was created to influence their opinion like any normal advertisement, but at the end of every article, there was a note.
The note explained to the reader that the article was filled with inaccurate data. After reading something like that what would you think, would you still put any faith in that news article? You probably would just not on purpose, and that’s exactly what happened to this sample of college students.
They knew perfectly well that the article was incredible, yet their opinions still changed. The endnote scared them off at first, but over time, they gravitated toward the article’s controversial message. The discovery of this bizarre social phenomenon changed the way that the media approached advertising because now they don’t have to rely on conscious persuasion.
Normally when you see something convincing, you can feel yourself changing your mind, you know you just watched a powerful advertisement or heard a charismatic speaker, but the sleeper effect unlocks a deeper level of control.The media can unconsciously stimulate long-term change; they can manipulate your opinion without you realizing what's happening. Click To Tweet
It’s been decades since Hovland first discovered the sleeper effect since then the influence of the media has grown exponentially. In the 21st century, experts have used Holland’s theory to develop new ways to delay and strengthen their messages.
Delayed fear is a great example and has become more popular in recent years if an advertisement wants to present something as dangerous or scary. What kind of commercials should they make you’d think they’d want something terrifying, something that really sticks with their audience, but those ads rarely have a lasting effect on their viewers?
Instead, the media undermines its own message with humour bad quality or some other discounting cues. This kind of commercial won’t leave anyone shaking in their boots, but it helps their message stick in people’s heads, so the next time you go to the store to buy some chips or a soda, think about why you’re choosing that specific product. Do you just like the taste, did you see an ad that sold you a feeling or a lifestyle or has the media unconsciously changed your opinion, has your constant exposure to certain brands companies and influencers transformed the way you think?.
It’s tempting to say no no one likes to think their views may not be their own, but that’s the power of the sleeper effect you’ll keep thinking they’re your choices your opinions and your habits, but the media has been worming its way into your mind for your whole life, and it isn’t going to stop anytime soon now.
Also read: 5 Strategies to possess The WARRIOR Mentality
Communication and Persuasion von Carl I. Hovland, Irving L. Janis and Harold H. Kelley (1953)
The Influence of Source Credibility on Communication Effectiveness*
Experiments on mass communication. (Studies in social psychology in World War II), Vol. 3
Empirical Tests of the Absolute Sleeper Effect Predicted From the Discounting Cue Hypothesis
The Sleeper Effect in Persuasion: A Meta-Analytic Review