The Holy Guardian Angel is representative of one’s truest divine nature. The term is equivalent with the Genius of the Golden Dawn, the Augoeides of Iamblichus, the Atman of Hinduism, and the Daemon of the gnostics.
In the system of Magick, the single most important goal is to consciously connect with one’s HGA, a process termed “Knowledge and Conversation.” By doing so, the magician becomes fully aware of his own True Will. For Aleister Crowley, this event was the single most important goal of any adept:
- It should never be forgotten for a single moment that the central and essential work of the Magician is the attainment of the Knowledge and Conversation of the Holy Guardian Angel. Once he has achieved this he must of course be left entirely in the hands of that Angel, who can be invariably and inevitably relied upon to lead him to the further great step—crossing of the Abyss and the attainment of the grade of Master of the Temple. (Magick Without Tears, Ch.83)
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A form of subliminal messaging commonly believed to exist involves the insertion of “hidden” messages into movies and TV programs. The concept of “moving pictures” relies on persistence of vision to create the illusion of movement in a series of images projected at 23 to 30 frames per second; the popular theory of subliminal messages usually suggests that subliminal commands can be inserted into this sequence at the rate of perhaps 1 frame in 25 (or roughly 1 frame per second). The hidden command in a single frame will flash across the screen so quickly that it is not consciously perceived, but the command will supposedly appeal to the subconscious mind of the viewer, and thus have some measurable effect in terms of behavior.1
- Merikle, P. (n.d.). Subliminal Advertising. Retrieved from https://www.psychologistworld.com/influence-personality/subliminal-advertising ↩
Subliminal influence 1
A lot of the research on (behavioural) priming is conducted by exposing test subjects to subliminal stimuli. In this procedure, a word or picture is briefly flashed on the computer screen. The exposure time of the stimulus on the screen is at a level that ensures that the participant is not conscious of the stimulus being presented. ‘Subliminal’ literally means `below a threshold’, and researchers often draw a distinction between what they call the objective and the subjective threshold value. The former is a threshold value of exposure below which nothing is observed. This can be tested using a so-called forced choice procedure: participants are given a few choices and have to answer which stimulus they saw being flashed on the screen. When participants answer at chance level, this means that the exposure time was so short that no one was able to see anything (e.g., Cheesman & Merikle, 1984). Interestingly, when the presentation length is increased, participants slowly start to perform better than chance levels, even if they say they didn’t see anything. This illustrates the subjective threshold, where people are not consciously aware they saw something, but the presented stimulus has an effect on memory processes nonetheless. It is in this time frame that subliminal perception takes place. It is difficult to give an exact estimate of the exposure time needed to present a stimulus subliminally, but can differ from anywhere between 10 to 100 milliseconds. This depends on the size and complexity of the stimulus presented, on the illumination and background contrast, where on the screen the stimulus is presented, as well as individual differences. Research on subliminal priming investigates what influence, if any, such subliminally presented information has on people’s thoughts and behaviour.
- Joop van der Pligt & Michael Vliek, The Psychology of Influence: Theory, research and practice (Routledge 2016). ↩
People are influenced by their immediate environment, which includes the objects, situations, and persons they encounter. Indeed, features of the environment can affect psychological experiences and behaviors so subtly that people fail to notice these influences. Priming refers to an unobtrusive and momentary environmental influence on an individual’s psychological experiences and behaviors. The term priming has also been used to describe the experimental technique researchers use to study these effects in the laboratory.
How does priming work? The dominant explanation posits that environmental features temporarily activate (prime) mentally represented concepts, such as attitudes, behaviors, emotions, goals, memories, stereotypes, and traits. For example, suppose that you encounter a dog on the street. This encounter activates the concept “dog” and its associated traits, such as “furry” and “loyal.” Once activated, primed concepts become more likely to influence immediate cognitions (e.g., thoughts, judgments), feelings, and behaviors. So, if immediately after encountering the dog you are asked to name a characteristic that is important in a friend, you may be temporarily more likely to say “loyalty.”
Importantly, priming effects occur automatically. That is, concepts can be activated without awareness and go on to bias overt responses in ways that people do not intend and cannot control. Supraliminal priming describes cases in which people are aware of an environmental cue, but are not aware of its influence on them, such as in the dog example above. In subliminal priming, people are not even aware of an environmental cue, yet it still influences them. As an example, imagine moviegoers who are flashed a brand of drink for fractions of a second, below the radar of conscious perception, and unwittingly choose it over other beverages.1
- what-when-how, Priming, The-Crankshaft Publishing. (n.d.), http://what-when-how.com/social-sciences/priming-social-science/. ↩
Evaluative Priming 1
Implicit measures of attitudes have been developed since the 1980s, and applied in research on such themes as stereotypes and prejudice (for example, Wittenbrink, Judd & Park, 1997) and health behaviour (Wiers, van Woerden, Smulders & de Jong, 2002; see also Petty, Fazio & Brifiol, 2009; De Houwer & De Bruycker, 2007). Their underlying assumption is that attitudes are associations in the mind (Fazio, Sanbonmatsu, Powell & Kardes, 1986).
Associations that vary in strength form networks, with the stronger ones more easily accessible in our thoughts. Such associated networks are activated automatically. If you find yourself face to face with a shaven-headed man covered in tattoos, wearing sunglasses and accompanied by a dog that has to be muzzled in public, certain thoughts come spontaneously to mind. And the same can happen with members of other groups — people of a particular ethnicity or profession, say — or with a particular product you are familiar with. Implicit measures try to reveal these automatic associations.
The popularity of these measures is due in part to their ability to predict behaviour. For a long time it was assumed that attitudes are the product of explicit reflection, which then guides how we act. In reality, though, much of what we do is more or less habitual and not preceded by a great deal of concerted mental effort (see, for example, Ouellette & Wood, 1998; Wood & Neal, 2007). Strack and Deutsch (2004) state that behaviour can be influenced both by more reflective, reasoned consideration and by impulsive and intuitive processes. Fazio (1990) and Kahneman (2011) also refer to the spontaneous and intuitive bases of attitude versus the more reasoned ones.
So the way we act can be guided by implicit associations as well as more rational processes. Which of these predominates, and to what extent, depends upon the situation and the type of behaviour concerned. Dovidio, Kawakami and Gaertner (2002) found that the degree of friendliness displayed by white test subjects when co-operating with people from other ethnic groups was determined primarily by the associations they had with those groups and not by their explicit attitudes. This and other similar results have prompted great academic interest in implicit measures. Two of the most commonly used techniques are evaluative priming and the implicit association test (IAT).
Evaluative priming was introduced by Fazio, Jackson, Dunton and Williams (1995). It seeks to establish whether, and to what degree, an attitude object affects the categorisation of words as positive or negative. The basic idea is that seeing or hearing one positive word or image makes it easier to identify others in that category and more difficult to identify negative ones. The exact opposite applies when a negative word or image is seen or heard. Fazio, Sanbonmatsu, Powell and Kardes (1986) had already demonstrated that people do indeed respond more quickly when the valence of the ‘prime’ (the attitude object) is the same as that of the ‘target’. Say we show you a picture of a cockroach and then ask you to categorise a word that immediately follows the picture as either positive or negative, as fast as possible. If you are like most people, you find cockroaches repulsive (i.e., it has negative valence). So if the target word following the picture is also negative (`ugly’, ‘dirty’ or ‘disgusting’, say), you are quick to identify it as such. But with incongruent (positive) words like ‘pretty’, ‘tasty’ or ‘attractive’, the process takes just a little longer. By looking at your different response times to the various target words, we can thus measure in a subtle way whether a particular attitude object (in this case a cockroach) elicits positive or negative associations in you. This task can be used to assess the automatic evaluative response to any type of attitude object that can be presented as a prime stimulus such as (single) words or pictures.
The second technique, the IAT, was developed by Greenwald, McGhee and Schwartz (1998). It compares how quickly people are able to categorise specific attitude objects when the categories are coupled with other words or terms, either positive or negative. As an example, imagine we ask you to categorise female names, male names, positive stimuli (party, prize, puppy …) and negative stimuli (murder, bankrupt, rat …). If you have to press one particular key for both female names and positive stimuli and another for both male names and negative stimuli, you will find that a little easier if you have a more positive attitude towards women than men. And it would be slightly more difficult for you if female names are coupled with negative stimuli. In other words, you categorise ‘Mary’ and ‘Lucy’ more quickly in the first of these situations than in the second. This method again exploits the fact that attitude objects (in this case male and female names) trigger automatic evaluative associations that can vary in valence and strength. You can take the test yourself at https:// implicit. harvard. edu.
The IAT is used frequently in research into attitudes and stereotyping (for an overview, see Greenwald, Pohlman, Uhlmann & Banaji, 2009). By replacing the male and female names in the example above with ones associated with a particular ethnic group (Mohammed, Fatima …), for instance, you can gain an insight into the automatic associations evoked in a subject by that group. This is especially useful when explicit, more reasoned measures of stereotyping and prejudice are less predictive of behaviour.
Several implicit measures are now available, most of them reasonably reliable. They are sometimes able to predict behaviour where explicit techniques cannot, particularly when it is habitual, when people have not elaborated thoroughly, or when people are not really aware of their existing preferences (e.g., Galdi, Arcuri & Gawronski, 2008; for a review, see Gawronski, 2009). Implicit measures are now being used in several diverse applied settings, for example in the political domain to predict voting behaviour (Arcuri, Castelli, Galdi, Zogmaister & Amadori, 2008), or to predict consumer decisions (e.g., Dimofte, 2010). This research suggests that both explicit and implicit measures are useful to measure in order to predict behaviour. The specific circumstances within which implicit measures have added value over explicit measures are still in debate though (see for example, Friese, Smith, Plischke, Bluemke & Nosek, 2012; Gawronski, Galdi & Arcuri, 2014).
- Joop van der Pligt & Michael Vliek, The Psychology of Influence: Theory, research and practice (Routledge 2016). ↩