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Subliminal Cues Improve Athletic Performance

Subliminal Cues Improve Athletic Performance

A new study finds that endurance athletes benefit from positive subliminal cues.

Subliminal visual cues are words, pictures, or symbols which are not consciously identified.

Researchers from Bangor University found exposure to positive subliminal cues helped endurance athletes exercise significantly longer compared to those who were shown sad faces or inaction words.

Samuele Marcora, Ph.D., in collaboration with colleagues presented the positive subliminal cues by using action-related words, including “go” and “energy” or showing the athlete happy faces.

The words and faces appeared on a digital screen — placed in front of the athlete — for less than 0.02 seconds and were masked by other visuals, meaning they were unidentifiable to the participant’s conscious mind.

Researchers say this is the first study to demonstrate that subliminal visual cues can directly affect performance during exercise.

Additionally, it confirms that the perception of how much effort someone thinks they are using can be altered during exercise. That is, exercise performance may be enhanced by subliminal cues.

Marcora is currently exploring ways in which this research could open up new possibilities for athletes to improve their performance during competitions by using technology — such as “smart glasses” — to provide positive subliminal cues.

The study is published in the journal Frontiers in Human Neuroscience.

Source: University of Kent

Runners photo by shutterstock.

Subliminal Cues Improve Athletic Performance

Rick Nauert PhD

Rick Nauert, PhDDr. Rick Nauert has over 25 years experience in clinical, administrative and academic healthcare. He is currently an associate professor for Rocky Mountain University of Health Professionals doctoral program in health promotion and wellness. Dr. Nauert began his career as a clinical physical therapist and served as a regional manager for a publicly traded multidisciplinary rehabilitation agency for 12 years. He has masters degrees in health-fitness management and healthcare administration and a doctoral degree from The University of Texas at Austin focused on health care informatics, health administration, health education and health policy. His research efforts included the area of telehealth with a specialty in disease management.

APA Reference
Nauert PhD, R. (2015). Subliminal Cues Improve Athletic Performance. Psych Central. Retrieved on December 18, 2018, from


Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 6 Oct 2015
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 6 Oct 2015
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