Propaganda affects everyone. That’s because the most effective propaganda makes no attempt to alter your viewpoint. Instead, it takes what you already know or believe and weaves it into its own plan of action. Propaganda is often associated with dictatorships and is so stigmatized. Not that you would fall for propaganda if it came your way, but it doesn’t happen where you live. What comes to mind when you hear “propaganda”? You are educated, skeptical, and have a little common sense. Propaganda couldn’t possibly affect you, can it?
Let’s start with the fundamentals. Contrary to popular belief, propaganda isn’t solely government-sponsored mind control. To support one’s cause or harm an opposing one, Miriam-Webster defines propaganda as “ideas, facts, or allegations distributed intentionally.” Said, any material promoting a cause is propaganda.
Recently, a short video directed by Taika Waititi (Jojo Rabbit) went viral, proving that people are susceptible to propaganda. Because of the uproar sparked by the film, Mexico’s Senate approved a bill banning animal experiments. But merely getting a bill enacted in such a short timeframe shows what propaganda can achieve. But why was Save Ralph so famous? Their methods were not those associated with propaganda, or were they?
The assumption that propaganda spreads intrinsically erroneous thoughts and information is foolish, say Leonard W. Doob and Edward S. Robinson in Psychology and Propaganda. Not because they are mutually exclusive, but because they are. Indeed, even lousy propaganda appears attractive when presented in this manner.
What is Propaganda?
1. Propaganda Narrates:
Everyone knows that people adore stories. Social media marketers promote their brands using stories. Whatever you’re selling, make it a story. A story humanizes a cause and taps into people’s need to engage personally. Propaganda is explained in the larger framework of myth-making by Kimball Young in Social Psychology. Storytelling allows us to connect words and images to ideas emotionally. These stories sometimes represent a nation’s history or cultural ideals.
Animals are innocent and so unworthy of cruelty, according to Save Ralph. As we see Ralph get abused throughout the film, we are conditioned to think of fairness. We empathize, in brief. Sadly, the video might not have generated as much sympathy if the speaker had been a convicted pedophile instead of an adorable bunny. While the message is unchanged, the story has changed.
2. Propaganda Is You:
Creating a connection between the target and the cause or idea being pushed is a major focus of propaganda’s psychological mechanisms. Propaganda that uses the plain folk’s strategy is easier to identify than the other two. Plain people use the same psychological mechanisms that make people connect as propaganda. Because the speaker professes to be one of them, propaganda that works with ordinary people resonates with the listeners.
Any politician with wealthy parents, or money from shady sources, may further their cause. As if they share the same background as their supporters. Our fictional politician will represent their interests and make their voters feel ‘seen.’
While this is true, the fact that most propaganda is based on social psychology further reinforces your resistance. Unlike others, you don’t care what others think. What this sheeple are saying can’t impact you.
3. You’ve Seen It Before:
Propaganda is not like love. Contrary to popular belief, constant exposure to propaganda increases confidence in the truth. This is as per the Psychonomic Bulletin & Review study. Repetition helps us compare our information with others. Repetition of information that contradicts prior knowledge makes us mistrust our own knowledge, even if we know otherwise.
Propaganda also increases familiarity with a concept or a cause through repeated exposure. The familiarity principle is also known as the mere exposure effect in social psychology. In spite of any initial rejection, gaining familiarity with an idea makes you more susceptible to its persuasion.
4. Getting You to Jump to Conclusions:
Making good choices necessitates inquiry Is this the greatest buy? What policies does it support? Is this medicine safe?
Propaganda does not want you to ask or find answers. It uses manipulative strategies including simplification, dramatization, exploitation, and division to get you to make emotional decisions.
5. You Aren’t Unique:
Propaganda targets people who think they are too smart for it.
“I only know that I know nothing,” declared Greek philosopher Socrates. A true intellect is conscious of the boundaries of what it knows and the enormous ocean of knowledge it lacks. As a result, they are more cautious and less likely to accept early impressions of a stimulus. In critical thinking, self-doubt is a powerful weapon. Meta-cognition, or thinking about thinking, aids in self-evaluation. You can tell if thoughts and opinions are valid and well-considered if you understand why you think the way you do.
Meta-cognition is thrown out the window when one assumes one is too intelligent for propaganda. It prevents you from exploring why you think the way you do. To believe that one ‘knows’ enough is known as the Dunning-Kruger effect. On the other hand, meta-ignorance is the antithesis of meta-cognition. Incomplete or erroneous knowledge prevents us from realizing our cognitive flaws.
Propaganda is a form of misinformation that is used to deceive people. Don’t be humiliated if you learn that some of your beliefs stem from internalizing propaganda. It’s important to understand the limitations and weaknesses of these ideas.