The performance of current graphics engines makes it possible to incorporate subliminal cues within virtual environments (VEs), providing an additional way of communication, fully integrated with the exploration of a virtual scene. In order to advance the application of subliminal information in this area, it is necessary to explore in the psychological literature how techniques previously reported as rendering information subliminal can be successfully implemented in VEs. Previous literature has also described the effects of subliminal cues as quantitatively modest, which raises the issue of their inclusion in practical tasks. We used a 3D rendering engine (Unity3D) to implement a masking paradigm within the context of a realistic scene and a familiar (kitchen) environment. We report significant effects of subliminal cueing on the selection of objects in a virtual scene, demonstrating the feasibility of subliminal cueing in VEs. Furthermore, we show that multiple iterations of masked objects within a trial, as well as the speeding of selection choices, can substantially reinforce the impact of subliminal cues. This is consistent with previous findings suggesting that the effect of subliminal stimuli fades rapidly. We conclude by proposing, as part of further work, possible mechanisms for the inclusion of subliminal cueing in intelligent interfaces to maximize their effects.
Aranyi, G., Kouider, S., Lindsay, A., Prins, H., Ahmed, I., Jacucci, G., ... Cavazza, M. (2014). Subliminal Cueing of Selection Behavior in a Virtual Environment. Presence, 23(1), 33-50. https://doi.org/10.1162/PRES_a_00167