In a study in the Journal of Experimental Psychology, researchers tested volunteers to see under what conditions they believed two slurs—that McCain was senile and that Obama was a Muslim.
“The researchers found that when they subliminally flashed the name Obama before volunteers—the flashes were so brief that the volunteers did not notice the flash—this unconsciously activated words such as Arab, turban, and mosque in the minds of McCain supporters. Likewise, subliminally flashing the word McCain unconsciously activated words such as senile, dementia, and Alzheimer’s in the minds of Obama supporters. The same thing did not happen when volunteers were flashed the name of the candidate they supported. The slur-related words were activated only by unconsciously reminding them about the candidate they opposed.”