The Psychology Behind Propaganda

The Psychology Behind Propaganda

The Psychology Behind Propaganda

Today’s information is available everywhere in the form of news, posts, advertisements, memes, and reels. Sometimes while scrolling through the phone, we get two extremely opposite types of content, and it becomes harder for us to decide on which information we are going to agree on. After a brief argument inside our minds, we often decide to agree with the thought that resonates more with our emotional level. Now the question is, why is it mostly emotional? It is because humans are driven by emotions first. Even when the human body is formed in the form of bones, it’s the heart that forms before the mind. Hence, people get attached to such information and act and advocate for that information. According to them, it’s the truth. But what if later in life they get to know that what they thought was the information was actually propaganda?

It will become very hard for them to accept and regularize the full truth, of which they were unaware until now. In the world of social media, it’s very important for us as citizens to be socially aware citizens of the nation. To do so, we humans have to be a little more wise when liking, sharing, or posting any information.

Also Read: Exploring the propaganda: Men aren’t from Mars and Women aren’t from Venus

What is propagandism?

It refers to the publication of information, facts, and arguments to influence people who are not complete in nature or only half-truths or pieces of information, represented as full information, fact, or reality. It is mostly shared with people or groups of people through social media (newspapers, television, blogs, What’s App, Facebook, YouTube, etc.). In simple words, it is the selective representation of facts instead of objective information to encourage people to change their attitude, thoughts, behavior, or opinion.

What is the purpose of propaganda?

The purpose of propaganda is to intelligently control the conduct of individuals and groups to follow non-rational emotional drives. Through propaganda, propagandists convince the audience to believe what they want them to believe and can manipulate other people’s responses. Repetition is used as an effective technique to enhance the impact of propaganda more widely and deeply. Gradually, the audience starts living and believing in the propaganda-generated information and standing up for it.

4 basic principles of propaganda:

  1. It relies on emotions, never on full facts, information, or arguments.
  2. Cast propaganda into the pattern of ‘we’ versus an ‘enemy’
  3. To reach groups as well as individuals to enhance its impact
  4. Hide the propagandist as much as possible (to present is more as fact and manipulating the response easily).

Also Read: What is Political Psychology?

Differences between propaganda and persuasion

  1. The main difference between propaganda and persuasion is that propaganda is a one-sided argument, opinion, or fact aimed at maintaining power and controlling public opinion and response. Whereas persuasion is aimed at informing the audience about a particular issue or piece of advice,.
  2. Persuasion is a much more conscious attempt by an individual to change another person’s belief or response, whereas in propaganda, people are often unaware of when they get influenced by the propaganda.
  3. Persuasion is characterized by private acceptance of the position advocated in the message. Whereas in the case of propaganda, people in public comply with the behavior urged of them, but privately, they reject the position advocated in the message.
  4. Propaganda provides limited alternatives, such as two different extremes, like a person having no choice except these two options. It represents information in a black-and-white manner, whereas in persuasion, people have more options to choose from, and they are advised to choose one option among many as that option serves the aim more competently.

Also Read: Why should we talk about Media Framing?

What is the propaganda effect?

Humans create change because of their exposure to information and experience. When any information deeply affects their inherited fear, belief, or insecurities, it gets expressed in their behavior, thoughts, and attitude. Similar things happen with the propaganda effect. The propaganda effect is when a person (subject) is more likely to respond to the statement they were exposed to in the past as being true. Or simply because they were exposed to it, they think it’s the truth. The propaganda effect is a result of priming.

Famous propaganda techniques:

1) Information overload:

People can attend to a certain limit of information at a certain time, and when they are exposed to too much information, a reduction in their decision quality will occur. An overload of information prompts disengagement. A similar situation happens with these propaganda techniques. When propaganda information comes with high intensity and frequency, people find it hard to get more engaged in decision-making and reflection of the information and to agree with the aim of the propaganda.

2) Transfer:

Transfer propaganda is also known as association. In this propaganda technique, symbolism plays a decisive role as it pushes the audience to establish a connection to the said product, object, value, or person. It is a technique of projecting positive or negative qualities of them onto another in order to make the second more acceptable or to discredit it. This propaganda connects people’s fear or apprehension with a person, object, or product that can drive away the fear.

3) Glittering generalities propaganda:

This propaganda pushes the audience to support an idea, product, person, or nation to make it stand out in the crowd. Positive beliefs or desires are incorporated to manipulate people’s responses, and people get triggered by such positive beliefs and desires.

Also Read: What Is The Psychology Behind Hate?

4) Bandwagon propaganda:

These propaganda appeals attempt to persuade the target audience to join in and take the course of action that everyone else is taking. This propaganda gives people the impression that this trend is fashionable or popular. People often respond to such propaganda when they are unsure about the best way to promote an idea.

5) Card stacking propaganda:

Card stacking is a widely practiced propaganda technique nowadays, especially in communication initiatives. This agenda glorifies one point of view while downloading another, thereby creating blind spots. This ultimately drives the audience to prioritize the positive aspects of a product, idea, or party over everything else. This propaganda showcases or stockspreads the best features and quality of the product while concealing the not-so-good ones.

6) Stereotyping propaganda:

This propaganda either supports or challenges the stereotype. Stereotypes are assumptions or ideas regarding a group that apply to specific people. The target audience here are the people who want to be associated with the stereotype or feel targeted by it.

7) Testimonial propaganda:

This is a straight-forward tactic that attempts to discredit the people’s ideas and does not give them the opportunity to consider evidence. In this propaganda, often well-known or reputable personalities are used to strengthen the message. This technique uses a sophisticated promotional strategy to enhance demand for your product or idea.

8) Plain folks propaganda:

Sometimes simple anecdotes can trigger the audience’s emotions considerably and may even drive them to manipulate their response. This plain folks propaganda technique makes use of this power and projects regular people in their presentation to demonstrate that they value the service or product.


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