How can we use priming / subliminal messages to increase the visitor / user's joy on a website?

The topic "Subliminal Perception" a.k.a. "Priming" is often used by marketeers to subliminally persuade people into buying their products without people noticing it. I believe we can use these theories to also make the user more happy while he / she is browsing the website.

I was thinking about pictures of smiling people or light color use. But those are just assumptions based on my own thoughts.

What is Subliminal Perception / Priming?

An implicit memory effect in which exposure to one stimulus (i.e., perceptual pattern) influences the response to another stimulus.


We see and hear a lot of messages and stimuli on a daily basis. Our brains can't always process these stimuli, but our subconsciousness still picks it up. When we're asked to make a decision (or when we want to make a decision), in quite some cases we will base the decision on what we've perceived, even if we don't actively remember it anymore.


  • Anthony Marcel did an experiment where he primed some participants with a word (flashing "pine" real quick) where he didn't prime the other participants. In the end, the primed participants responded quicker when asked what they saw in the picture (a plant).
  • German music in a liquor store caused an increase of German wine. French music did the same with French wine:

Subliminal Perception in a liquor store Source: http://www.nickkolenda.com/subliminal-messages/

Certain people are more sensitive to priming than others, and of course the theorie isn't always working depending on environmental distraction. But I'm looking for the most effective way to help the users without them knowing they've been helped.

So I'd like to hear your opinions and experience to answer the question:

How can we use priming / subliminal messages to increase the visitor / user's joy on a website?

  • While this is a fascinating topic, and very relevant to UX - what you're asking here is incredibly broad. As the help centre states: "Your questions should be reasonably scoped. If you can imagine an entire book that answers your question, you’re asking too much." Can you narrow this down to a specific issue around priming that you need an answer to?
    – JonW
    Mar 18, 2016 at 12:00
  • @JonW Thanks for the feedback. It's hard to specify the topic, because I'm looking for experiences that are relevant to UI Design. Priming is about decision making, but I'm wondering how we can implement it in a UI. If you have tips regarding the specification of this question, please post your thoughts! :-) Mar 18, 2016 at 12:42
  • Unfortunately, that sort of question doesn't really fit with the Stack Exchange model. It's more of a discussion forum topic, whereas we're explicitly a question and answer site - a question is posed and people will give you the answer. That model doesn't fit for people sharing experiences, or generally discussing something.
    – JonW
    Mar 18, 2016 at 13:33
  • Okay, I specified the question. The specified question is more clear to answer. Mar 18, 2016 at 13:36
  • Still too broad, I'm afraid. What type of online interface? (There are potentially millions) and what type of decision are you talking about? I also think you're sort of coming it from the wrong direction. You've basically got a Solution in search of a Problem, whereas this site is the other way around. Priming may be the answer to a particular problem, but it isn't the question itself.
    – JonW
    Mar 18, 2016 at 13:44