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This study evaluated the effectiveness of psychodynamic subliminal stimulation, using the tachistiscopic presentation of the message, “MOMMY AND I ARE ONE“; in reducing anxiety and facilitating performance on a cognitive task. Psychodynamic subliminal stimulation (Silverman, 1976) was compared to an alternative, social support strategy, that involved verbal reassurance by the experimenter (Sarason, 1981). Twenty students (10 males, 10 females) identified as “high test anxious” (falling in the upper 25% on Sarason's (1978) Test Anxiety Scale) were assigned to each of five conditions, including three treatment groups: subliminal stimulation, social support, and combined subliminal stimulation plus social support; and two control groups: subliminal stimulation control (using an alternative subliminal message) and no treatment control. Compared to previous studies, the present one incorporated several methodological contributions: examination of both test anxiety and cognitive performance in a nonclinical sample of both males and females, the utilization of “other treatment”; “combined treatment”; and multiple control groups. A MANOVA performed on the two dependent measures, anxiety and anagram performance, was nonsignificant, F(2, 46) = 1.46; p > .05, although the order of group means tended to be as expected. The findings suggest a lack of robustness of the effects obtained with either approach (psychodynamic subliminal stimulation or social support).
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 1987-01-01

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