Covert persuasive technologies: Bringing subliminal cues to human-computer interaction

Oswald Barral, Gabor Aranyi, Sid Kouider, Alan Lindsay, Hielke Prins, Imtiaj Ahmed, Giulio Jacucci, Paolo Negri, Luciano Gamberini, David Pizzi, Marc Cavazza

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contributionpeer-review

19 Citations (Scopus)


The capability of machines to covertly persuade humans is both exciting and ethically concerning. In the present study we aim to bring subliminal masked stimulus paradigms to realistic environments, through Virtual Environments. The goal is to test if such paradigms are applicable to realistic setups while identifying the major challenges when doing so. We designed a study in which the user performed a realistic selection task in a virtual kitchen. For trials below one-second reaction time, we report significant effect of subliminal cues on the selection behavior. We conclude the study with a discussion of the challenges of bringing subliminal cueing paradigms to realistic HCI setups. Ethical concerns when designing covertly persuasive systems are discussed as well.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationPersuasive Technology
Subtitle of host publication9th International Conference, PERSUASIVE 2014, Proceedings
EditorsAnna Spagnolli, Luca Chittaro, Luciano Gamberini
PublisherSpringer Verlag
Number of pages12
Volume8462 LNCS
ISBN (Electronic)9783319071275
ISBN (Print)9783319071268
Publication statusPublished - 2014
Externally publishedYes
Event9th International Conference on Persuasive Technology - Padua, Italy
Duration: 21 May 201423 May 2014
Conference number: 9

Publication series

NameLecture Notes in Computer Science
Volume8462 LNCS
ISSN (Print)0302-9743
ISSN (Electronic)1611-3349


Conference9th International Conference on Persuasive Technology
Abbreviated titlePERSUASIVE 2014


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