How do a few words affect how you act? Perhaps quite a bit. And without you even knowing it. That’s the lesson that psychologists learned from the weird, subliminal Florida Effect.

The Florida Effect is one of the earliest, and most powerful, examples of “priming.” Priming, in psychological terms, means the use of background factors to put someone in a psychological state that affects their actions without their conscious knowledge. The background factors are usually images or props in the room in which the experiment is conducted. Sometimes the priming takes the form of a story that subjects listen to, or words they hear.

In the study called the Florida Effect, subjects were asked to arrange words into a sentence. One group of subjects was given random words, and the other group was given words that reminded them of old age, such as “Florida, lonely, careful, town, knitted, wrinkled” and they were asked to make different sentences with these words.

After they had finished arranging the words, the subjects were asked to walk down a short hall to another room to fill out a form. Researchers timed the walk, and found that people who had had the “old” words walked more slowly than the ones that had had neutral words. They walked more slowly even though in interviews none of the people said they felt old, and none of them even saw a theme in the words they were arranging. And the Florida Effect was born.

“This effect triggers two things in the body,” says psychologist John Bargh; Even though the word elderly is not used in the first place, words related to old age trigger thoughts about old age in the mind. These thoughts then trigger the slow movement, slight hunching, or slow walking associated with old age. Those who are exposed to all this are not even aware of it.’’

In summary; Even if you are not consciously aware of it, the stimuli around you direct your mental structure. After a while, the affected mind starts to affect your behavior and you start to behave in that direction. Acting this way further reinforces the thought in your mind. And this whole system operates in an unconscious universe, most of the time you don’t even realize it.